Chelsea squeaked past a Sunderland side inspired by new manager Paulo Di Canio, eventually running out 2-1 winners at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta handed Di Canio’s side a first-half lead, turning into his own goal on the stroke of half-time.
But two goals within 10 minutes of the restart got the Blues back into the match - a Matt Kilgallon own goal was followed by a neat Branislav Ivanovic backheel to put Rafa Benitez’s side ahead. And the Blues held on to seal a vital three points.
Di Canio will be pleased with his new club’s performance, especially in the first-half. They caused Chelsea problems, with David Luiz and Ivanovic under pressure from Conor Wickham at the back.
And the Black Cats arguably deserved their lead when Azpilicueta tamely miscued into his own net. But Chelsea came storming out after the interval, and a 10-minute spell that included two goals was enough to take all three points from the fixture.
The win takes the Blues back up to third as the race for a Champions League qualification spot heats up. Spurs dropped points at home to Everton in a 2-2 draw, and Chelsea are now level on points with their former manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Arsenal’s victory over West Brom on Saturday puts them on 56 points, two behind Spurs and Chelsea.