A late goal from Jermain Defoe gave a struggling Sunderland a crucial 1-0 victory over a high-flying Crystal Palace on Monday night.
It was a quiet first period from both sides, with neither having a clear-cut opportunity throughout the 45 minutes, Patrick Van Aanholt and Defoe had the best chances but neither could find the net.
Yohan Cabaye proved the hero as he blocked Sebastian Coates goal-bound effort before the Frenchman went close himself but couldn’t find the net. Diafra Sakho, Defoe and Jeremain Lens had great opportunities before Defoe secured the win ten minutes from time.
Positive Black Cats
Both sides got off to quite a slow start and it was Sunderland who had the first half-opportunity as Billy Jones played a good ball into van Aanholt, which was well left by Steven Fletcher, but the tight-angle proved too much for the Dutchman as he found the side-netting.
Defoe then had a great opportunity in the 12th minute when Lee Cattermole played a good ball into the striker, but he put it just wide of the post.
The remainder of the half proved to be a quiet affair until the 33rd minute when Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey was forced to quickly clear the ball as he manage to prevent Defoe latching onto a long ball.
Fifteen minutes from the break Palace had their first real opportunity when Wilfried Zaha played a great cross looking for a lurking Connor Wickham, but John O’Shea was there to head it away.
Yannick Bolasie then attempted the acrobatic volley at the back post, but it was well wide of the target and the flag was raised for offside.
Lively second half
It was Sam Allardyce’s side that started the second half on fire and came within inches of taking the lead in the 50th minute. Coates’ header looked goal bound, but Cabaye was hand at the back post to volley it away.
The French midfielder almost gave his side the lead almost instantly when he unleashed a low swerving shot 30 yards from the goal, but Costel Pantilimon got down well to push the effort away.
Substitute Sakho went close just before the hour mark when he tried an effort from a difficult angle which had Pantilimon scrambling across his goal, but it went just a yard wide of the far post.
Defoe looked certain to latch onto the long ball into the area but Eagles captain Damien Delaney did brilliantly to get across and stretched his leg out to block the effort.
Sub Duncan Watmore did well to beat Bolasie before cutting back to Jones whose shot was deflected but Hennessey still had to produce a good save to keep out Lens’ low effort.
Defoe’s late winner
After applying most of the pressure on the night, Sunderland managed to finally take the lead ten minutes from the end.
It was a terrible mix-up on Palace’s behalf as Scott Dann looked to have covered Jones’ through ball but his delayed reaction, possibly waiting for Hennessey ,saw him stick it under his own keeper which created the perfect opportunity for Defoe to poke it into an empty net.
Palace equalised almost instantly when Cabaye tried to strike home from an angle, but Pantilimon did brilliantly to stick a hand out to keep his side ahead as they eventually claimed the three points.