Chelsea back in the groove

Nicolas Anelka scores a hat-trick as Chelsea cut loose at Stamford Bridge against Sunderland.

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LONDON // Nicolas Anelka scored a hat-trick as Chelsea cut loose at Stamford Bridge yesterday. Frank Lampard also netted to record the 100th league goal of his career. Alex was the other Blues player to strike in a match which saw Sunderland manager Roy Keane sent to the stands after clashing with officials. Chelsea were hoping to start a new era of home domination as it was their first match at home since losing their 86-game unbeaten streak against Liverpool last Sunday.

Manager Luis Felipe Scolari made just one change from the starting line-up wh0 won at Hull in midweek, bringing in Alex for the injured Ricardo Carvalho. Didier Drogba took his place on the substitutes' bench. Sunderland, meanwhile, were hoping to bounce back from a dismal midweek performance at Stoke and manager Keane made five changes to his starting line-up with striker Kenwyne Jones making his first start of the season.

Chelsea started brightly, fizzing the ball around on the greasy surface, a Florent Malouda right-foot shot flying just wide of a post. The home side were dominating possession and they should have gone ahead in the 10th minute when Anelka took the ball down in the penalty area and fed Ashley Cole who could not quite stab the ball home as Pascal Chimbonda muscled in. If that was close then Deco came even closer in the 16th minute as Chelsea continued to slice open the Wearsiders. The Portuguese midfield man received the ball on the edge of the area, swivelled sweetly and sent a curling shot crashing against the Sunderland crossbar. Chelsea confirmed their total authority with two goals in two minutes. The first arrived after 26 minutes, Brazilian defender Alex starting the move in midfield. The ball was switched to Joe Cole out on the right and when it fizzed across the penalty area it squirmed under goalkeeper Marton Fulop into the path of Alex, who had continued his run, and he swept the goal home from three yards. It was Chelsea's 1,000th Premier League goal. Number 1,001 was scored by Anelka, but again it owed much to the presence of Alex. This time it was Lampard out on the right who provided the angled cross, which skidded across the penalty area off the rain-drenched surface.

Alex again got the touch as he slid in and although the ball was about to cross the line Anelka made sure, smashing the ball home from no more than 12 inches. And on the stroke of half-time Anelka slotted his second, again from close range as Chelsea demonstrated their superiority. Keane was sent to the stands by referee Martin Atkinson at the start of the second-half after allowing his frustrations to boil verbally with the officials in the tunnel at half-time.

It got worse for Sunderland in the 51st minute when Joe Cole supplied the cross for Lampard to head home the 100th league goal of his career. And two minutes later Anelka completed his hat-trick, again from close-range with the ball looping off the body of goalkeeper Fulop and dropping agonisingly over the line. At 5-0 up Chelsea were in complete control, just the time for Scolari to bring on substitute Didier Drogba in place of Joe Cole.

* PA Sport