- Defoe’s 4th PL goal of 2015-16
- Sunderland 1 point from exiting relegation zone
- Palace fail in bid to go 6th in PL
While the month of November tends to be a bit early for Sunderland to bother with winning games, and their points in threes, Sam Allardyce‘s bunch went away to Crystal Palace on Monday and grabbed a gigantic three points with a 1-0 victory at Selhurst Park.
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The first half saw Allardyce deploy his troops in, essentially, a five-man backline in an attempt to funnel every Palace attack into the center of the field and limit the space in front of and behind the second-worst (26 goals conceded – Bournemouth, 27) defense in the Premier League. The tactical surprise worked just as Allardyce drew it up, to the tune of six Palace shots, with just two on target.
Palace’s first quality chance of the game came in the 35th minute, when Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie fired the ball back and forth across the face of goal from outside of either post. Zaha had an opportunity during the sequence to head the ball on target, but ultimately sent it well wide and back to an offside Bolasie.
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Sunderland began the second half a bit more on the front foot and created the game’s best chance through 50 minutes. Sebastian Coates rose above the crowd to head Sebastian Larsson‘s in-swinging corner kick toward the far post, but Yohan Cabaye was perfectly positioned to boot clear what would have been the game’s opening goal.
Jermain Defoe bagged the game’s only goal in the 80th minute, when he capitalized on an horrific error at the back by Scott Dann and Wayne Hennessey. Billy Jones played a through ball beyond Dann, but the Palace defender raced back and had every chance to pass the ball back to his goalkeeper or boot it clear. Instead, he shielded Defoe in hopes that Hennessey would take the initiative, which didn’t happen. Defoe raced around Dann, touched the ball around Hennessey and rolled it into a wide open net.
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Monday’s victory pushes Sunderland (9 points) in 18th in the PL, ahead of Bournemouth on goal differential, just one point behind their Tyne-and-Wear rivals Newcastle safely outside the relegation zone. Palace’s (19 points) failure to leapfrog four sides and go sixth in the lead means they’ll spend the next week in 10th.