Crystal Palace 1 #Sunderland 3
Sunderland banished an apparent hoodoo that had dated back to April 2002, a timespan that included twenty games, by beating Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park last night in the #Premier League thanks to two goals from Scottish international striker, Steven Fletcher. Manager Gus Poyet would have watched with envious eyes as near neighbours Newcastle United have embarked on a tremendous recent run to maintain their interest in the Capital One Cup (the competition that Poyet took his side to the final of last season) and to haul themselves up the league table. By contrast, his side had still to placate their own fans after an embarrassing 8-0 recent reversal at Southampton, although they had showed some resolve in a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal last time out. Last night provided a welcome tonic as they attempt to repair their season, marking their first away win of the season and moving them out of the bottom three.
It could all have been so different if Palace had been awarded a penalty decision inside the first thirty seconds, when Fraizer Campbell went down moments before the Sunderland keeper Costel Pantilimon collected the loose ball. Television replays further infuriated Palace manager, Neil Warnock afterwards as they seemed to suggest that there had indeed been contact to the Palace striker's shin from Santiago Vergini, but the referee, Phil Dowd had waved play on at the time.
As it was, it was Sunderland who took the lead on 31 minutes with a goal that was reminiscent of last season's corresponding league fixture. This time it was Patrick van Aanholt who crossed from the left and (as last season) Fletcher demonstrated commendable technique to guide his header back in the direction it had been crossed from and into the corner of his opponent's net. Not long afterwards, van Aanholt was stretchered off with a suspected dislocated shoulder to be replaced by Wes Brown.
Warnock's men had clearly been given a "gee up" at the break, as they came out of the blocks fast in the second half, forcing Sunderland back and looking to get the ball into the box or force corners at every opportunity. It almost brought reward when a chance looked to have fallen to Wilfried Zaha, only for Brown to block his goalbound shot.
The pressure paid off soon after on 55 minutes, but in rather bizarre circumstances. Pantilimon initially made a breathtaking point blank save to keep out Marouane Chamakh's effort, but Campbell retrieved the loose ball before it ran for a corner and his back heel into the centre was unluckily driven into his own net by the retreating Wes Brown, to bring the match level.
As the game approached the final quarter, either side looked capable of snatching the victory but it was Sunderland that regained the lead on 78 minutes. Jordi Gomez had plenty of time to measure his shot as the ball came to him from Will Buckley and his left foot strike unerringly found the corner of the Palace net.
Poyet brought Liam Bridcutt on to try to hold on to the lead for the final stages, but the referee helped them further by giving a second yellow card to Mile Jedinak with only three minutes left, after a tangle in midfield with Gomez. Replays suggested that the decision this time was probably correct, as he seemed to kick out at the opposition player.
As Palace pushed forward for a late equaliser they were caught with a sucker punch on the break deep into injury time, as Bridcutt fed Fletcher who finished the game off as a contest with a neat left foot finish. #Football