Chelsea 5 Sunderland 1: A tame end to a wretched season

Chelsea's Willian celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. PA pic.
Chelsea's Willian celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. PA pic.
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It played out as the John Terry testimonial, and Sunderland it must be said were fairly ideal opponents.

They took a shock lead through Javier Manquillo and showed endeavour throughout, but were not good enough to compete with the power and movement of Chelsea’s attacking midfield, in the end overrun once more.

Willian and Eden Hazard were imperious, well worth their goals and proving too much for a Sunderland back three with a combined age of 100.

Up front, the Black Cats, missing Jermain Defoe, with a hamstring injury, lacked presence and the ability to hold the ball up for any period of time.

Chelsea were far from their best but had more than enough.

It said much that Antonio Conte, normally an electric, fevered presence on the touchline, spent his afternoon basking in the adoration of the Chelsea faithful.

To begin with it was surreal, Adnan Januzaj showing the quality so scarce this season as he coasted clear of N’Golo Kante and David Luiz, the latter forced to foul the Belgian as he threatened to break into the box.

Seb Larsson’s free-kick, deflected, broke to the back post where Terry, whose every touch was being applauded, has left Javier Manquillo escape at the back post.

His finish was emphatic, Courtois helpless as the Spaniard, in a slight surreal twist, scored his first goal of the season to give the visitors an unlikely lead.

It lasted just give minutes. Former Sunderland loanee Marco Alonso hit the bar with an almost perfect free-kick, a stramash ensuing in the box as the Black Cats failed to clear. Too many Sunderland defenders had been sucked towards the ball and Willian was free to rifle home at the far post, Jordan Pickford got a hand to it but the pace of the Brazilian’s strike was too much.

From there it looked as if the Black Cats would be overwhelmed. Chelsea began to hit their stride, their pace and movement on the ball a major test for Sunderland’s ageing defence. Pickford did well to save an Alonso drive from the left hand side, while Eden Hazard inexplicably failed to convert a Moses cross with the goal gaping. Diego Costa ought to converted David Luiz’s free-kick at the back post fifteen minutes in, but could turn wide.

Sunderland, limited to two poor long-range efforts from Lee Cattermole, were struggling but Chelsea’s momentum was drained by the farcical substitution of John Terry, given a guard of honour as he was taken off in the 26th minute.

Willian went close to a second but the rest of the half was played at a tepid pace. The Black Cats should have gone into the break ahead, another Larsson free-kick falling this time to the feet of John O’Shea, but the Irishman could only shoot straight at Courtois. The Irishman had an impressive half, marshaling Diego Costa well, who was booked for his theatrics late in the opening period as the two clashed near the half way line.

The Black Cats had been a threat from set-pieces all afternoon and came close early in the second half as a Jack Rodwell header forced a good save from Courtois, diving low to his left.

Sunderland were preparing Lynden Gooch for action, Chelsea Michy Batshuayi as the hour approached.

The Belgian was set to replace Diego Costa, but before his departure he had a key hand in his side’s second. He controlled a cross field pass before sliding in Eden Hazard. Billy Jones stood off and Hazard showed his turn of pace to get clear in the box and fire home.

Not unlike the Emirates in midweek, Sunderland ran out of steam as their opponents technical superiority began to tell. Chelsea struggled to carve out clear opportunities but were handed their third on a plate as Joleon Lescott, who had until that point done quite well on his full debut, headed a long ball over the head of a stranded Jordan Pickford. Pedro was quick to spot the opportunity and headed into an open goal.

Batshuayi added a fourth in stoppage time as Pickford’s poor kick found Pedro, who raced through to slide in the Belgian striker.

He added a fifth on the final whistle, racing into the box unopposed and firing into the far post.

It was a tame end to a wretched season.