ON the day that Sunderland allowed main striker Asamoah Gyan to leave on a season-long loan, the Black Cats served up a performance which underlined how toothless their attack currently is.
One goal in four games so far became two in five thanks to substitute Ji Dong-won’s consolation goal in injury-time.
But for long periods of the game Sunderland struggled to create decent chances and found themselves unable to convert the few they did.
In fairness, the home team were up against a multi-star Chelsea side brimful of talent.
It looked though as if the Black Cats – with Nicklas Bendtner making his debut – had established themselves in the game when Chelsea took the lead just after the quarter-hour.
A free-kick from Juan Mata hit the woodwork and with Sunderland spurning several opportunities to clear, John Terry took advantage when he steered a low shot home from a narrow angle.
Sunderland’s best chance of the first half had fallen to Bendtner minutes earlier but he headed Phil Bardsley’s centre wide when well-placed in front of goal.
It proved a costly miss as Chelsea regularly threatened to extend their lead but the Blues had to wait until the 50th minute for their second, when an outrageous backheel from Daniel Sturridge beat both Simon Mignolet and Wes Brown.
Sunderland worked hard to contain the visitors and Ji’s late goal brought the faintest of hopes after he produced a classy finish to a Bendtner knockdown in the 91st minute but it was always a case of too little to late.
With only two points from the first four games of the season, the pressure is on Sunderland now to get their first win of the season at the fifth time of asking when Stoke come to the Stadium of Light next Sunday.
* Full report and pictures in tonight’s Football Echo.