Chris Young: Chelsea comeback was one of THE epic days in Stadium of Light history

Wahbi Khazri celebrates
Wahbi Khazri celebrates

The 4-1 victory over Chelsea in 1999-00 remains one of the most memorable afternoons in Stadium of Light history, as Sunderland produced a rout in the pomp of the Peter Reid era.

But it's just been relegated into second place. A 3-2 comeback against a Chelsea side who actually turned up for once this season, particularly when there was so much riding on the encounter, was arguably THE epic day at this stadium.

With Newcastle continuing their dire away form and failing to triumph at already relegated Aston Villa and Norwich succumbing to Manchester United... well, it was the perfect day for Sunderland.

Suddenly, the Black Cats have the golden opportunity to sign and seal the drop battle before the final day of the season - a prospect which looked a mere pipe dream at the start of the day.

But it wasn't just that Sunderland took a huge step towards survival. The manner of a victory which took Sam Allardyce's men out of the drop zone was particularly electric, as an avalanche of noise engulfed Wearside when Jermain Defoe netted his 15th Premier League goal of the season and whipped off his shirt in celebration.

At the interval, when Sunderland had criminally allowed Chelsea back in front after such a stunning equaliser from Wahbi Khazri, a point looked to be the very most the Black Cats could achieve, while prayers were being uttered that VIlla would continue to hold the Magpies.

Yet Sunderland showed character and then some.

They were indebted to a couple of superb saves from Vito Mannone to twice prevent Diego Costa giving Chelsea a two-goal advantage, but Sunderland didn't gave up the ghost.

Allardyce's men kept scrapping, kept harrying the visitors, regardless of how slick some of the interplay was between Cesc Fabregas, Willian and the elusive Eden Hazard (never quite as influential after being unceremoniously chopped down by Lee Cattermole).

The introduction of Duncan Watmore helped, with an unconvincing Chelsea defence struggling to adapt to Sunderland's change of formation to 4-2-3-1.

But Sunderland still needed to find their shooting boots, which has not been the case at the Stadium of Light this season. Only Villa had scored fewer on their own patch before kick-off.

Fabio Borini kept his head to drill home an equaliser, albeit with a splash of help from John Terry, before that man again, Defoe, did what he has done so magnificently throughout 2016.

The place exploded. Defoe cried. And suddenly, Wearside can see the finish line at the end of what has been a draining, emotional marathon.