Chelsea’s victory, in a game that witnessed two own goals, saw them climb above both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur into third place, while Sunderland remain just a point above the relegation zone.
Appointed as the successor to Martin O’Neill amid a whirlwind of controversy over his alleged fascist sympathies, Di Canio had dominated the British sporting headlines in the build-up to the game.
The Italian, who this week denied he was a fascist, saw his side take the lead on the stroke of half-time when Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta inadvertently hooked John O’Shea’s header into his own goal.
Di Canio had drafted Matthew Kilgallon into his starting line-up but the centre-back accidentally gifted Chelsea an equaliser in the 47th minute when he diverted Oscar’s pass past visiting goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Branislav Ivanovic completed the Chelsea comeback 10 minutes into the second half but his strike was similarly fortuitous, David Luiz’s strike cannoning off him and trundling into the net.
Spurs’ last-gasp draw
Earlier, Gylfi Sigurdsson snatched a late equaliser as Tottenham denied Champions League qualification rivals Everton victory in a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane. Spurs went into the game aiming to tighten their grip on third place and they took the lead after just 34 seconds when a stretching Emmanuel Adebayor toed Jan Vertonghen’s cross past Tim Howard.
However, Phil Jagielka equalised in the 15th minute, rising to nod Leighton Baines' corner between the legs of Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Kevin Mirallas then put the visitors in front.
David Moyes’ side were within sight of a fourth straight league win, only for Sigurdsson to tap home an equaliser in the 87th minute after Adebayor’s shot came back off the post. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s bid for a European berth faltered as they were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to West Ham United.