With Crystal Palace’s defense taking a snooze, Jordi Gomez broke a 1-1 deadlock with 15 minutes to go and Mile Jedinak’s sending off sealed their fate at Selhurst Park as Sunderland’s first home win of the season pulled them out of the relegation zone.
Steven Fletcher struck early for Sunderland with a long-distance header, and despite Wes Brown’s own-goal to bring Palace level, Sunderland were more deadly on the day despite what seemed like an even amount of attacking play.
Straight after the opening whistle referee Phil Dowd was tested, and it appeared he failed the early exam. Frazier Campbell got by the Sunderland defense on a headed flick from Marouane Chamackh, and with Costel Pantilimon late to come out of his goal to smother the break, Santiago Vergini slid across to make the tackle, Vergini got none of the ball and all of Campbell’s shin, but Dowd didn’t make the call.
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The home side continued to pummel the Sunderland back line, and the tempo of the game was at a lightning pace, although the quality of play was unable to keep up. Speedy breaks often came to a screeching halt with misplaced feeds or heavy touches.
The opening goal came a half-hour in from the game’s first real chance – officially the game’s first shot on target – with Sunderland going in front with their first goal in their last four road games. Patrick van Anholt collected just barely onside, and his cross floated in to Steven Fletcher who powered a header in from a good distance out with Julian Speroni wrong-footed.
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Just minutes later van Anholt had to be stretchered off with a shoulder injury, suffered while defending Wilfried Zaha on the edge of the penalty area, and Phil Dowd again waved off Palace’s penalty shouts.
Fletcher then sprung to life again, displaying a bit of brilliance on the ball and stinging Speroni’s hands. Vergini also ripped a volley on goal before the halftime whistle but Speroni was able to palm it out.
Crystal Palace began the second half like they started the first, and it paid off this time around. Pantilimon made a brilliant save on a vicious Chamakh header, but Campbell backheeled the ball back in front of net and Wes Brown’s attempt to clear went into the back of the net. Speroni then denied a Vergini volley again to preserve the 1-1 scoreline.
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But it wouldn’t last forever, as Jordi Gomez would put the visitors back on top 15 minutes from time and set them up for relief from the relegation zone. A scything run by Will Buckley confused the Palace defense, and while the back line stood shockingly still, Gomez rifled one into the corner past a wrong-footed Speroni.
A stupid moment for Palace’s captain put Neil Warnock’s side in an even more untenable position when he took down Gomez in midfield and tried to sneak in a post-tackle kick, but Phil Down caught it and sent Jedinak off with a second yellow card, although it could have warranted a straight red.
Fletcher grabbed his second in stoppage time to wrap things up on a break with Palace pouring men forward. That would seal it for Sunderland, who jumped to 15th position in the table – out of the drop zone – with the three points, putting them ahead of Crystal Palace who drop to 17th, just a point ahead of the danger area.
Your random stat of the day:
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Hangeland (Gayle 74′), Dann, Ward, Jedinak, Ledley, Zaha, Bolasie, Chamakh (Puncheon 76′), Campbell.
Goals: Brown (og) 55′
Discipline: Jedinak (second yellow) 87′
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Reveillere, van Aanholt (Brown 37′), O’Shea, Vergini, Cattermole, Larsson, Gomez, Buckley (Bridcutt 82′), Wickham (Altidore 78′), Fletcher.
Goals: Fletcher 31′, 90+4′; Gomez 75′