Sunderland steal three points at Crystal Palace through Defoe
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | November 23, 2015
Crystal Palace 0-1 Sunderland
- Match of few chances won by Black Cats
- Defoe profits from Dann error to net winner
- Sunderland move to within a point of safety
Black Cats burgle Eagles
Jermain Defoe may have been carried from the field at Selhurst Park, but not before the Sunderland striker sealed victory for Sam Allardyce’s side at Crystal Palace.
A tight contest was decided by Scott Dann’s defensive error when Defoe latched onto a Billy Jones through-ball, and rounded Wayne Hennessey to pinch three points for the travelling Wearsiders.
Black Cats boss Allardyce went for a back three again, despite that having disastrous results in the Wearside outfit’s 6-2 demolition at Everton, yet it proved more effective here.
Having lost at home to Southampton last time out, the travelling Mackems saw Big Sam make five changes, including the restoration of Lee Cattermole, Jermain Defoe and John O’Shea to their spine.
The Eagles, meanwhile, gave former Stadium of Light striker Connor Wickham a start in place of Bakary Sako, while Joel Ward returned at right back.
Tight first 45
In a first-half of few chances, Palace exerted plenty of pressure on Sunderland, but had just two efforts from range that went straight down Costel Pantilimon’s threat to show for it.
Yannick Bolasie, so effective when hitting a hat-trick the last time these two teams played, led an Eagles counter on the quarter-hour after a Black Cats attack broke down, yet something better than a tame finish after nutmegging Billy Jones was needed.
Patrick van Aanholt, pushed forward into a wing back role had earlier shot off target, as did diminutive Defoe, who had some rough treatment from marker Damien Delaney.
Jones’ blocked shot from the rebound to a free-kick just failed to clear a packed penalty area, so Hennessey in the home goal had nothing to do. Eagles midfielder James McArthur warmed the hands of Pantilimon on half an hour, but clear cut openings were at a premium.
Sunderland snatch win in second-half
That pattern of play continued after the interval with Yohan Cabaye clearing Sebastian Coates’ set-piece header, before forcing Sunderland stopper Pantilimon into parrying a drive.
Pardew brought on Sako, who managed to injure himself after a spectacular effort off the right flank and taking a free-kick.
Allardyce introduced Black Cats academy product Duncan Watmore and, buoyed by his England Under-21 cap during the recent international break, he helped tee up fellow sub Jeremain Lens for a low effort that Hennessey had to save.
Cabaye forced Pantilimon to tip over after Sunderland had scored their breakaway winner, with defeat hugely disappointing for hosts Palace. Could this be the catalyst for Big Sam’s Black Cats to kick on? They remain 5/4 favourites with Coral to finish bottom despite victory in south London.