REPORT Sunderland 3 Chelsea 2: Epic comeback puts Cats in pole position for survival
Sunderland's 3-2 victory, coupled with defeat for Norwich and a draw for Newcastle at already relegated Aston Villa has put Sam Allardyce's in the box seat for Premier League survival.
It was an absolutely epic comeback from Sunderland, who found themselves 1-0 down and then 2-1 down against last season's Premier League champions after Wahbi Khazri's stunning volley had ended a run of three Stadium of Light blanks.
But despite trailing at the interval, Sunderland fought back in stunning fashion, with Fabio Borini's fifth of the season levelling proceedings.
Two minutes later, Sunderland were ahead as top scorer Jermain Defoe netted his 15th league goal of the campaign, before Allardyce's side held on doggedly for the three points.
Sunderland started the game at a high intensity; pressing Chelsea at every opportunity, yet it was the visitors who grabbed a 14th minute lead after the Black Cats had failed to properly clear their lines from a corner.
Gary Cahill got free down the left-hand side of the area and his pull-back deflected off DeAndre Yedlin straight into the path of the overlapping Diego Costa, who calmly slipped a shot beyond Vito Mannone into the far corner from a tight angle.
Sunderland gradually recovered from that early set-back and forced a save from Thibault Courtois in the 25th minute when Jermain Defoe found a yard down the left-hand side of the area and delivered an inswinging cross.
Yedlin had continued his run forwards and just managed to make contact with a header, but Courtois was able to block with his legs.
Moments later, Costa was millimetres away from tapping home a second for Chelsea after just failing to make contact with Branislav Ivanovic's delicious low cross.
Mannone had to palm away an improvised Cesar Azpilicueta chip from the left-hand by-line six minutes before the interval after Sunderland's appeals that Costa had run the ball out of play fell of deaf ears.
However, seconds later Sunderland were level after an absolutely stunning goal from Khazri.
A punted free-kick from halfway resulted in a spot of pinball inside the Chelsea area before it came out to Khazri to the left of goal 20 yards out.
The Tunisian hit an absolutely stunning first-time right-foot volley which took a slight deflection off Cahill, yet it wouldn't have made any difference as the ball rocketed into the far top corner.
It prompted Sunderland's best spell of the game, but in first half stoppage time, they fell to a sucker punch as Chelsea regained the lead.
Yedlin was unable to make contact with a high punt forwards and Azpilicueta headed the ball through to the onrushing Nemanja Matic, being played onside by Patrick van Aanholt.
Matic kept his cool to slide the ball under Courtois and regain the lead.
Chelsea almost extended their advantage to 3-1 within four minutes of the restart after the increasingly influential Eden Hazard drifted inside from the left and threaded the ball through for Costa.
The striker had just Mannone to beat from the edge of the box, but his low right-foot shot was saved by the body of the Sunderland keeper.
Mannone again came to the rescue in the 62nd minute after a free-flowing Chelsea move had cut Sunderland to ribbons.
Hazard pulled the ball back to Cesc Fabregas, who could have gone for goal 15 yards out, but instead played in the unmarked Costa eight yards out.
Costa had time to pick his spot, but Mannone spread himself superbly to block the shot.
The value of that save was shown six minutes later when Sunderland again pulled level.
Van Aanholt received the ball in acres of space down the left and he had the presence of mind to lift his head and pick out Borini on the edge of the area.
Borini brought it under his control and hit a right-foot shot which took a deflection off John Terry and nestled in the bottom corner.
Two minutes later, Sunderland went ahead as Defoe netted his first Stadium of Light goal since January.
Yedlin's cross from the right deflected off John Obi Mikel into the path of Defoe, who brought it under control immaculately before firing low past Courtois.
Chelsea were still a threat though - Mannone having to tip a Willian free-kick over the top in the 74th minute.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when Terry was sent off for a second yellow card after a clumsy challenge on Khazri.
Sunderland: Mannone, Yedlin, Kone (O'Shea 55), Kaboul, van Aanholt, Kirchhoff (Watmore 64), M'Vila, Cattermole (Larsson 71), Khazri, Borini, Defoe. Subs not used: Pickford, Rodwell, Lens, N'Doye. Booked: Cattermole (52), Defoe (70), Kaboul (87), Larsson (88)
Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic (Baba 68), Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Mikel (Traore 83), Matic, Willian (Oscar 80), Fabregas, Hazard, Diego Costa. Subs not used: Begovic, Loftus-Cheek, Kenedy, Pato. Booked: Cahill (1), Terry (86)