STEVE Bruce last night admitted Sunderland were outclassed by the best performance he had ever seen from a Chelsea side, but the Black Cats boss is hoping to ease some of the pain of his sides 3-1 defeat by completing the capture of John Mensah.
Mensah is expected to agree a season-long loan at the Stadium of Light before the weekend, with a view to a permanent £6m transfer at the end of the season.
The Ghanaian defender was on Wearside yesterday, and now has permission to begin a medical at the Academy of Light. Provided no unforeseen problems emerge from that, he should be a Sunderland player by the time Blackburn travel to Wearside on Saturday.
Chelsea were the visitors to the Stadium of Light last night, and second-half goals from Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Deco earned the London side all three points after Darren Bents second strike in as many games had given Sunderland a first-half advantage.
Bruce was happy with his sides battling qualities before the break, but admitted his players could not cope with Chelseas ability when the visitors hit their stride after the interval.
Sometimes, you just have to hold your hands up and say you got beaten by an excellent team, said the Sunderland boss. That was as good a Chelsea performance as Ive witnessed in the Premier League. They were absolutely excellent.
Sometimes, you just have to take it on the chin. We were gallant, we tried and we got a break (when Bent profited from Kenwyne Jones deflected strike). But sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say we were outclassed.
You get a goal and it gives you hope, but we could never really get to grips with Chelseas system whatever we tried to do.
Nevertheless, Bruce insists he can still take some positives from Sunderlands first defeat of the season.
Midfielders Lee Cattermole and Lorik Cana tackled ferociously at the heart of midfield, while 19-year-old Jordan Henderson gave an impressive account of himself on his first Premier League start.
There were a lot of positives, said Bruce.
You could see why Lorik Cana captained Marseille, and it will be good for the young kid (Jordan Henderson) to have tested himself against Ashley Cole.
The kid ran a million miles. He did very, very well in the first half.
Bruce will spend today sweating on the fitness of both of his first-choice central midfielders though, as Cattermole and Cana both left the field yesterday evening nursing injuries.
Cattermole has sustained a back injury, while Cana will go for a scan today to determine whether he has broken a bone in his left hand.