Essien makes return in Chelsea’s victory over Sunderland

Karim Farouk & AP, Saturday 14 Jan 2012

Ghana’s midfielder Michael Essien makes his long-awaited return on Saturday after recovering from a serious knee injury


Michael Essien came on as a second-half substitute in Chelsea's Premier League game against Sunderland on Saturday to play his first match of the season after recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury.

The Ghana midfielder, who has been struggling with persistent knee injuries during the past two seasons, replaced England midfielder Frank Lampard in the 73rd minute. In the first training session of the pre-season, Essien ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and had to undergo a surgery.

The 28-year-old dynamic midfielder played for Chelsea’s reserves on 9 January before making his official return for the senior team against the Black Cats.

He helped the Blues to claim a precious win. Frank Lampard was in the just right place to open the scoring in the 13th minute, pouncing on the rebound after Spain striker Fernando Torres had crashed a powerful volley off the crossbar. The 33-year-old Lampard scored for the third successive match since a recall by coach Andre Villas-Boas.

Sunderland’s best chance of the first half fell to Nicklas Bendtner when he dragged Stephane Sessegnon’s pass just wide with Chelsea keeper Petr Cech beaten. Bendtner’s teammates James McClean and Craig Gardner had no better luck in the second half when both failed to convert easy chances.

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