Chelsea suffers major setback with 2-1 loss against Sunderland
Chelsea's Samuel Eto'o, right, fights for the ball with Sunderland players during an English Premier League soccer match at the Stamford Bridge ground in London, Saturday, April 19, 2014. Sunderland won the match 2-1.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, April 19, 2014 2:45PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 19, 2014 3:19PM EDT
LONDON -- Chelsea suffered a major setback to its Premier League title aspirations with a 2-1 loss against last-placed Sunderland on Saturday, ending Jose Mourinho's 77-match unbeaten home run during two spells in charge at Stamford Bridge.
Black Cats goalkeeper Vito Mannone made 14 saves as Chelsea missed possibly its last opportunity to dislodge Liverpool from the top spot, and the Reds will have the chance to extend their lead to a commanding five points at Norwich on Sunday.
After holding Manchester City to a draw midweek, Gus Poyet's players were again the party-poopers. Chelsea could not hold onto its lead after Samuel Eto'o opened the scoring in the 12th minute, as Connor Wickham levelled from the rebound six minutes later following Marcos Alonso's long-range effort.
Mourinho's unbeaten run came to an end in the 82nd minute when Fabio Borini scored from the spot after Cesar Azpilicueta brought down Jozy Altidore in the box.
After taking four points from their last two games, the Black Cats are now just three points from safety.
"With Sunderland this year, anything can happen," said Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, a former Chelsea player.
With three matches to go and a potential title decider at Anfield next weekend, Mourinho's side can't afford any more slip-ups in its quest for a fourth Premier League crown.
Blunders from veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and full-back Azpilicueta helped Sunderland secure the three points, with both men at fault on Sunderland's goals.
Schwarzer, who replaced Petr Cech after the Czech international was ruled out by a virus, could only parry Marcos Alonso's effort away and the ball came back straight to Wickham, who made no mistake from the rebound.
Azpilicueta then slipped to let Altidore enter the box and brought him down before Borini sent Schwarzer the wrong way.
"When I went to take the penalty I thought 'goal'. That's why we take penalties, because you're confident," Borini said. "Obviously Chelsea are up for the league and we're up for the relegation battle. We showed great character and belief."
Mourinho and his staff were not happy with the referee after the penalty decision and assistant coach Rui Faria was sent to the stands. Mourinho had to drag Faria away from fourth official Phil Dowd as the hosts' protests turned bitter.