LONDON Jose Mourinho looked as if he did not know whether to laugh or cry after watching his Eden Hazard-inspired Chelsea side hang on for a 4-3 Premier League victory at bottom of the table Sunderland.
Belgium winger Hazard was in irrepressible mood on Wednesday, scoring twice and laying on another goal for Frank Lampard, but every time the Londoners seemed like taking a grip of proceedings they allowed Sunderland back into the game.
"We played a phenomenal match, our best away from home this season," Mourinho told reporters after 2012 European champions Chelsea stayed second in the table, four points behind leaders Arsenal.
"There was top quality, great creativity in the three attacking players behind Fernando Torres and beautiful goals.
"The game is about that but it's also about basic things and we failed in those basic things," said Mourinho.
"The most basic is to defend set plays. In a game where we should win clearly because of the way we played, we had a risk until the last second."
Jozy Altidore turned sharply eight meters out to fire Sunderland in front early on before Hazard set up a simple close-range header for Lampard in the 17th minute.
The Belgian made it 2-1 after another mesmerizing run, only to see defender John O'Shea equalize when Chelsea failed to clear a corner.
Hazard weaved in and out of the home defense again before driving the ball into the corner of the net in the 62nd minute and victory seemed assured when Phil Bardsley slid a cross from substitute Demba Ba into his own net with six minutes left.
Bardsley then took advantage of more Chelsea confusion at a corner to give Sunderland hope of stealing a point.
"Hazard gave his best performance for me," said Mourinho. "We know about his talent but for the first time under me he showed ambition from the first minute to the last.
"He has great talent but sometimes he can disappear from games. He, Juan Mata and Willian were creative and dynamic - they gave the team what they needed."
Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet, a former Stamford Bridge favorite, also saluted Hazard's performance.
"Hazard was unplayable," said Poyet. I don't remember a player performing at this level against me as a manager.
"We tried everything. We needed another football."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)