Sunderland 2-3 Crystal Palace: Late Benteke winner stuns hosts

Sunderland 2-3 Crystal Palace: Late Benteke winner stuns hosts

The summer signing headed home in the fourth minute of added time to complete a pulsating comeback at the Stadium of Light

Sam Smith

Crystal Palace earned a magnificent victory against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2. 

A double from Jermain Defoe helped the hosts to a comfortable lead midway through the second half, but Joe Ledley responded straight away with a deflected effort. 

James McArthur's goal 14 minutes from time appeared to have earned both sides a draw, but Christian Benteke had other things in mind; powering home a header in the fourth-minute of added time. 

Alan Pardew's side now have three wins in their last three games, a stark contrast to their earlier form in 2016. 

Black Cats earn first half lead

The Eagles started the game well and Yohan Cabaye was flourishing in a more advanced role in the absence of Wilfried Zaha - who missed the game with a hamstring strain. The France international had the first chance of the game when he was put through on goal, but Papy Djilobodji retreated in time to outmuscle the Palace midfielder.

Benteke then had a great chance to open the scoring but he failed to connect properly after Jason Puncheon delivered a cross that travelled across the six-yard box and the ball ballooned over the crossbar. 

Pardew's side began to grow frustrated as the hosts defended resiliently and the Black Cats eventually took the lead against the run of play. Pressure from Adnan Januzaj forced Ledley into a mistake and Defoe placed the ball beyond Steve Mandanda in the Palace goal. 

The South Londoners could have netted an equaliser just before half-time but Damien Delaney could not divert a Benteke flick-on towards goal. 

Defoe slots the ball beyond Mandanda to open the scoring | Photo: Getty images / Mark Runnacles
Defoe slots the ball beyond Mandanda to open the scoring | Photo: Getty images / Mark Runnacles

Duncan Watmore replaced the injured Steven Pienaar midway through the first half and his pace was causing problems for the Palace defence at the start of the second period. Mandanda had to be at his best to rush out and prevent the former non-league man a goal.

However, The home side did eventually double their lead soon after courtesy of Defoe's second goal of the game; the England striker powering the ball past Mandanda from inside the penalty area. 

Palace responded straight away and were rewarded with a rather fortunate route back into the game as Ledley's strike took a cruel deflection off a Sunderland defender and crept into the net with Jordan Pickford wrong-footed. 

Palace complete turnaround

Ledley appeared to have given his side a lifeline when his effort deflected in off a Sunderland defender to halve the deficit between the two sides. 

However, 14 minutes from the end, substitute Zeki Fryers crossed for McArthur who headed home his second goal in his last two league outings.

An end-to-end finish ensued, although it seemed Sunderland would be more likely to win the game with both Defoe and Januzaj going close. 

However, with time almost up, Benteke stole in ahead of his marker to head home and send his new side back to South London with three points that seemed seemingly out of sight just 30 minutes before. 

The result could have heavy consequences for David Moyes who is still yet to win a league game with Sunderland since his appointment in the summer. Moyes will be expected to turn results around quickly, although the Stadium of Light hierachy could look across to today's opponents to see just how much a high level of trust in a manager can lead to long-term success.