Match ends, Chelsea 3, Sunderland 1.
Chelsea may have started the post-Jose Mourinho era with a comfortable victory against Sunderland - but the shadow of the former manager hung heavily over Stamford Bridge.
The Blues' fans delivered almost unanimous backing for Mourinho, with banners all around Stamford Bridge declaring support, while Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were jeered before and during the game by supporters who clearly believe they have been central to the sacked manager's downfall.
Branislav Ivanovic's towering fifth-minute header put Chelsea on the way and victory was effectively confirmed against the struggling Black Cats when Pedro pounced on a loose ball before half-time.
Guus Hiddink, confirmed as Chelsea boss until the end of the season hours before the game, watched from the stands alongside former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and club owner Roman Abramovich as Oscar added a third from the spot after Costel Pantilimon fouled Willian.
Fabio Borini pulled one back for Sunderland when he bundled in from close range, but this day was so much about Mourinho.
Mourinho wins backing from The Bridge
It was clear before kick-off that Chelsea's fans were pointing the finger of blame firmly in the direction of under-performing players for Mourinho's dismissal on Thursday.
Banners were unfurled emblazoned with the words "You Let Jose Down. You Let Us Down" and "The Three Rats - Hazard, Cesc and Costa".
Chelsea's players were also on the receiving end of x-rated chants collectively when each goal Chelsea scored was instantly greeted with chants for Mourinho.
The Portuguese may have gone - but he has not been forgotten.
Chelsea were on the floor before this game as they stood only one point off the relegation places in 16th position. And while a very poor Sunderland helped them to their feet, there certainly seemed to be a great freedom to the champions' play.
Oscar, cheered by Chelsea's fans, was his usual self but there was a zip about their early play that suggested a pressure valve had been released by the managerial change.
Chelsea's fans directed a colourful chant in the players' direction asking where they, and the performance they had produced against Sunderland, had been this season.
Any hope for Sunderland?
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce is an expert at keeping teams in the Premier League but he has his work cut out at The Stadium Of Light.
The Black Cats have no pace at the back if he persists with Sebastian Coates, Younes Kaboul and John O'Shea, while Jack Rodwell's promise has been stripped away by injuries and Jermain Defoe's best goalscoring days are way behind him.
Allardyce will need some fast work in the markets in January because he currently represents Sunderland's best, perhaps only, hope of staying up.
Man of the match - Oscar
What they said
Chelsea first team coach Steve Holland: "I am happy with the result but it is raw. I feel the way I feel.
"The first half they played well in general. The early goal gave the players a boost of confidence, but the team is still fragile to an extent. They are used to setbacks in recent weeks so we wobbled a bit in the second half. In the end I thought they saw the game out fairly comfortably."
Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce: "We looked frightened of going out to play. We didn't get to grips in midfield and we didn't go up against them. We picked a team to put them under pressure but we didn't really do that.
"When we gave them the first goal early it lifted the whole stadium. Right from the start we made life very difficult for ourselves. I was happy to get in at half-time just 2-0 down. The worrying thing for me is that again the personnel haven't carried out instructions and again I have had to change things.
"It's not what you want to do but you have to react and for a time we were a little better, but then we did the most stupid thing of all which was to give them a penalty."
The stats you need to know
- Branislav Ivanovic scored his first Premier League goal for Chelsea since February 2015.
- Chelsea scored more goals in this game (3) than they did in their final five Premier League games under Jose Mourinho (2).
- Sunderland have picked up just five points in their last 11 Premier League away games (W1 D2 L8).
- The Black Cats have conceded the most goals (33) and have allowed their opponents the most shots on target (106) in the Premier League this season.
Chelsea host Watford on Boxing Day while Sunderland travel to Manchester City on the same day.
- 4FàbregasSubstituted forMikelat 71'minutes
- 21MaticBooked at 88mins
- 8OscarSubstituted forSantos do Nascimentoat 82'minutes
- 19Diego CostaSubstituted forRemyat 76'minutes
- 7Santos do Nascimento
- 1PantilimonBooked at 48mins
- 22CoatesSubstituted forJohnsonat 23'minutes
- 16O'SheaBooked at 89mins
- 3van Aanholt
- 20ToivonenSubstituted forBoriniat 45'minutes
- 8RodwellBooked at 62mins
- 41WatmoreSubstituted forGrahamat 79'minutes
- 14Gomez Garcia-Penche
- Roger East
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Chelsea 3, Sunderland 1.
Foul by César Azpilicueta (Chelsea).
Danny Graham (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
John Obi Mikel (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jack Rodwell (Sunderland).
Attempt saved. Willian (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.
John O'Shea (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Ramires (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by John O'Shea (Sunderland).
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Nemanja Matic (Chelsea).
Fabio Borini (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt saved. Jermain Defoe (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Billy Jones.
Offside, Sunderland. Fabio Borini tries a through ball, but Jermain Defoe is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Pedro (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Willian.
Foul by Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea).
Fabio Borini (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Chelsea. Ramires replaces Oscar.
Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Branislav Ivanovic.