19th April 2014, west London. Chelsea and Sunderland step out onto Stamford Bridge knowing that three points would propel their season forward in completely different scenarios.
The 2013/14 Premier League season was, and still remains, one of the most dramatic campaigns in the history of English football. Chelsea, along with Manchester City and Liverpool, were in a tense race for the league title. Whilst Sunderland were competing with seven other teams to ensure safety for next season.
A moment in time – Marcos Alonso vs Chelsea, 2014
Before kick-off, a win seemed almost guaranteed for Chelsea. The Blues, under Jose Mourinho, had never lost a game at home with ‘The Chosen One’ in the dugout whilst Sunderland were on a six-game losing streak and rooted at the bottom of the league table.
And suspicions were proven early on in the game as Samuel Eto’o fired Chelsea ahead just 12 minutes in after Sunderland failed to clear a Blues corner, resulting in the Cameroonian legend giving the hosts the lead.
But the scoreline wasn’t to remain in Chelsea’s favour for long, as six minutes later Marcos Alonso, the same player that would join Chelsea two years later, fired a shot towards goal, causing Mark Schwarzer to spill the ball and allowing Connor Wickham to poke in the equaliser from close range.
Stamford Bridge fell silent, this was not part of the script. Chelsea fought tooth and nail to reclaim the lead the desperately needed, but anything they attempted was denied by the Sunderland defence and Vito Mannone.
The minutes ticked by, the first half came and went, still nothing. And then in the 81st minute, Sunderland broke through on goal with Jozy Altidore storming through, leaving Cesar Azpilicueta helpless and making a tactical foul inside the penalty area. Mike Dean blew his whistle and pointed to the spot.
Sunderland had a chance to do the impossible, and win at Stamford Bridge.
Fabio Borini stepped up to the spot, and coolly slotted the ball past Schwarzer to seal Sunderland three of the most important points they would claim all season and to ultimately knock Chelsea out of the race for the Premier League title.
Sunderland would go on to beat Cardiff City and Manchester United in their next two games and seal Premier League safety for another season, but it does make you wonder what might have happened to the Black Cats had Alonso not made that shot.
Alonso’s legacy at Sunderland might have been a short one, but his impact on the Black Cats is something that will stick with fans for a long time.