May 7 (Reuters) - Sunderland 3 Chelsea 2
Battling Sunderland received a massive boost in their bid to avoid relegation after twice coming from behind to beat Chelsea 3-2 in a thrilling Premier League clash on Saturday.
The win left the Black Cats fourth from bottom with 35 points from 36 matches, one point ahead of bitter north-east rivals Newcastle United who have played a game more and were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw at already-relegated Aston Villa.
Newcastle are now in the drop zone along with second from bottom Norwich City who lost 1-0 at home to Manchester United in the lunchtime kickoff.
Sunderland can secure top-flight football next season by beating visiting Everton on Wednesday.
“It was a difficult game but we managed to do it,” said Jermain Defoe after drilling a 70th-minute winner against Chelsea.
“Unbelievable character from the boys, everyone worked hard. We have always been confident, never thought about being relegated (but) it’s not done yet.”
The home side had the upper hand in the first half but were skating on thin ice after Diego Costa’s fine finish from a tight angle and a Nemanja Matic goal either side of Wahbi Khazri’s stunning volley gave Chelsea a 2-1 lead.
Sunderland turned the match on its head after the break with the home faithful roaring them on at the Stadium of Light.
Fabio Borini equalised in the 67th minute after Chelsea skipper John Terry deflected his stinging low shot from the edge of the penalty box and keeper Thibaut Courtois could not keep it out despite getting a hand on it.
Defoe then sent the fans into raptures after more sloppy defending by Chelsea as a clumsy John Obi Mikel clearance gave the striker time and space to unleash an unstoppable shot into the bottom right corner.
Terry’s miserable afternoon was complete when he was sent off deep into stoppage time for a second booking.
“We kept believing and showed that we are Sunderland,” said Borini.
”(The crowd were) unbelievable and we need that again on Wednesday because that made the difference when we went down 2-1 and it kept us going.
“We have to do it this week. We have the focus, we don’t have negative thoughts of relegation, we only have positive thoughts and we’ve seen it today.”
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Clare Fallon