Chelsea U23 3-0 Sunderland U23
Sunderland were left feeling blue as a silky smooth Chelsea ran riot at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League 2 on Friday.
Last Friday saw the Black Cats advanced to their first ever European final, but a week on proved to be a very different story.
Elliott Dickman’s side were second best throughout, falling behind to Richard Nartey’s close range finish with just four minutes played.
Sunderland did manage to steady the ship, but it didn’t last as Ike Ugbo struck either side of the break to seal all three points for Chelsea, and in the same breath inflict a night to forget in the capital for the Lads.
Sunderland headed to West London fuelled by last Friday’s European semi-final victory over Norwich City, courtesy of Joel Asoro’s seismic strike in the first-half.
Dickman was able to take a strong side to the capital, George Honeyman travelled once again while Tom Beadling was made available by League One side Bury.
But Chelsea were undeterred by the Black Cats’ strong line-up and made light work of slicing their rear-guard in two in the opening stages.
With just four minutes on the clock, Mason Mount’s free-kick from the right was inch perfect as Nartey sneaked in behind unchallenged to tap the ball into the net with their first meaningful sight of goal.
It was nothing more than the hosts deserved, though, as Sunderland had hardly clawed themselves out of their own half, with Chelsea in full control of the fixture.
Josh Robson was involved in the thick of the action, twice coming to blows with Mount who proved to be a thorn in Sunderland’s side, occupying the space behind the Black Cats’ midfield and seeking runs from deep.
Mount’s movement was proving difficult to track, and the attacker caught Sunderland’s backline asleep again as he strolled in behind and lifted a cross into the mix.
Ethan Robson was on hand though to nod the ball back to Max Stryjek but it was real warning sign for Dickman’s struggling side to sharpen up in all areas.
Stryjek then spared Elliot Embleton his blushes, confidently coming off his line to get a touch on the ball as Ugbo looked to round him following Embleton’s lax back pass.
But six minutes later Ugbo wasn’t to be denied.
An incisive breakaway saw Jonathan Panzo picked out Ugbo in aches of space from the left flank, and the forward confidently guided his header back across goal to double Chelsea’s lead in the 38th minute.
Sunderland were finding life hard as the hosts continued to lay siege on their goal, Mount going within a whisker of adding a third before the break with a long-range attempt which shaved the outside of the post.
Josh Maja entered the fray at the midway stage, replacing last Friday’s match-winner Asoro who had been isolated for much of the opening 45.
It was a brave switch from Dickman who acted early in an attempt to try and make the ball stick up top so Maja could look to pick out willing runners like Greenwood and Honeyman.
But the hosts merely picked up where they left off and with five minutes of the second period played Ugbo added a third.
Good work from Mount saw Isaac Christie Davies’ strike parried by Stryjek and into the path of Ugbo who tapped home his second of the evening.
Much to the Black Cats’ credit, though, as they responded and could’ve easily had a penalty following strong claims when Honeyman’s cross appeared to strike a Chelsea arm.
But lady luck wasn’t on the Lads’ side and the referee waved played on in front of the Shed End.
That was about as good as it got for Sunderland on an evening where creative instinct was hard to come by.
Chelsea: Beeney, Sterling, Nartey, Chalobah, Panzo, Sammut, St Clair (Wakefield, 63), Scott (Gallagher, 86), Ugbo, Davies, Mount
Subs not used: Quintero, Baxter, Suijic
Sunderland: Stryjek, J Robson (Casey, 71), Hume, Embleton (Wright, 83), Brady, Beadling, Molyneux, E Robson, Asoro (Maja, 45), Honeyman, GreenwoodSubs not used: Brotherton, Talbot