Chelsea v Sunderland

'We've sent a clear message'

by Stuart Vose

Head coach says players ready to fight.

Paolo Di Canio says his squad are prepared to scrap after declaring himself pleased with the side’s fighting spirit at Chelsea.

Sunderland took the lead at Stamford Bridge but eventually fell 2-1 at the hands of the European champions, who recovered with two second-half goals having gone behind just before the break.

We have sent a clear message today – we are ready for the fight

- Paolo Di Canio

And the Black Cats boss declared afterwards: “We have sent a clear message today  – we are ready for the fight.

“The players are a great group – after the first half I thought to go into the break with one goal was deserved.

“We created the best chances; it was a fantastic effort in the first half and we can be happy with that.”

Sunderland led when Cesar Azpilicueta turned John O’Shea’s header into his own goal, but Matt Kilgallon put through his own net before David Luiz’s shot deflected off Branislav Ivanovic and past a helpless Simon Mignolet.

Di Canio felt both Chelsea goals could have been prevented, but admitted he didn’t need to force the point home to his players.

“Stamford Bridge is a difficult place to come, but those lads are not happy,” he explained.

“They know they did well in the first half and then are disappointed to concede two goals so soon in the second.

“The way they were conceded was very strange – and perhaps could have been avoided. Every single mistake at this level will be punished.”

He added: “In the last 10 minutes we did lose energy, but for 45 minutes I was very, very happy with my players.

“Even after Chelsea scored, we didn’t sink and that is important. Our chances were limited after that but I think that is because of physical condition."

Sunderland now face a Tyne-Wear derby at Newcastle before hosting Everton at the Stadium of Light.

And Di Canio feels the Chelsea performance gives his side something to build on at the end of what he says has been a hectic week since his arrival.

“I’m very proud and happy after the performance I have seen,” he said.

"Yes, we can do better, but in the second half the players were tired and it was to be expected after a very busy week where they have worked very hard.

“We now have Newcastle, Everton, Aston Villa, Stoke, Southampton and Tottenham – for us these are six cup finals.”