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English Premiership

Chelsea dig deep for second victory

SUNDERLAND, August 18 – Chelsea dug deep again to maintain new manager Carlo Ancelotti's 100 percent start with a classy 3-1 victory at Sunderland on Tuesday.DIDIER_DROGBA_249182134.jpgOn Saturday, a miscued Didier Drogba cross deep into injury time dipped into the net to give Ancelotti’s side a narrow 2-1 home win against Hull City after the Blues had fallen behind.

The west London club found themselves in trouble again at the Stadium of Light as record signing Darren Bent gave Sunderland an early lead.

But thereafter it was all Chelsea as Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard from the spot and Deco produced second-half goals that eased the visitors to a deserved victory.

Having themselves won on the opening day – 1-0 at Bolton – Sunderland were reminded of the class gap in this league.

It was art against graft in the engine room, where Bruce trusted in the workrate and strength of former Marseille captain Lorik Cana alongside Lee Cattermole – both of them close-season signings – against the quality of Lampard, Ballack and Deco.

It was still a bright start from the home side and Bent, who had taken only five minutes to claim his first Sunderland goal at Bolton, threatened but lashed wide inside three minutes with Kieran Richardson better placed in the middle.

Chelsea could not break through the home side’s determined early rearguard, their best moments coming from a string of early corners, and were behind in the 18th minute as Bent, ridiculed by Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp last season for missing a chance he reckoned his wife could have put away, finished with cool precision.

He started the move with a ball over from the left that broke for Jones 18 yards out. The Trinidad and Tobago striker’s shot was blocked, but the ball squirted out to the left for Bent, who steadied himself before firing under Petr Cech.

Ballack ballooned a shot over when teed-up by Lampard inside the box and Jordan Henderson had to head clear Jose Bosingwa’s cross from under his own bar before Sunderland’s goal survived an almighty scare in the 37th minute, Cattermole hooking Ballack’s shot off the line following Deco’s corner from the left.

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Five minutes after interval, Marton Fulop clawed away Branislav Ivanovic’s header from a Lampard centre and the Hungarian was relieved seconds later to see Drogba’s bullet header skim the roof of his net.

Henderson conceded a corner when he hooked Lampard’s cross from the head of Ashley Cole, but there were to be no more let-offs for Sunderland as Lampard’s flag kick took a touch on at the near post for Ballack to force the ball home at the far post in the 52nd minute.

The home side was in danger of being overwhelmed and Chelsea made their dominance tell in the 61st minute as Drogba was upended by George McCartney for a clear penalty, which Lampard drilled home.

Drogba somehow headed Cole’s cross over the bar from close range, but victory was in the bag for Chelsea when Deco eluded substitute Grant Leadbitter to angle home a delicious right-foot shot from 20 yards.

Subsitute Daniel Sturridge tested Fulop with a curling effort at the death. A fourth would have been cruel on Sunderland, but little more than Chelsea would have deserved from a fine display.

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