A late goal from Jermain Defoe gave Sunderland a dramatic 1-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday.
A disappointing contest saw the home side enjoy more of the possession and play, although it was Sunderland’s Sebastian Coates who came closest to finding an opener when his second-half header was cleared off the line.
That was until Defoe pounced on some defensive confusion involving Scott Dann and Wayne Hennessey to round the goalkeeper and score a vital winner with 10 minutes remaining.
Sunderland’s victory – just their second in the Premier League this season – moves them up to 18th in the standings, only one point adrift of rivals Newcastle United.
Palace, meanwhile, stay 10th having missed the chance to move into the top six.
Alan Pardew made two changes to Palace’s team, with Connor Wickham replacing Bakary Sako against his former club and James Ward coming in for Martin Kelly. Marouane Chamakh was on the substitutes’ bench having not played since May due to a hamstring injury.
Sam Allardyce’s five alterations saw the visitors line up in a 3-5-2 formation. John O’Shea, Lee Cattermole, Patrick van Aanholt, Defoe and Sebastian Larsson were the players brought in.
Defoe fired wide from a promising position after good work from Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole had set up the opportunity, while Yannick Bolasie shot straight at Costel Pantilimon as the two teams exchanged early chances.
The hosts were enjoying more of the possession and James McArthur drove another effort towards goal that former Manchester City goalkeeper Pantilimon dealt with comfortably.
Larsson’s corner was powerfully headed powerfully towards goal by Coates early in the second half but Yohan Cabaye was well placed to clear from the goal-line.
Cabaye responded at the other end by swerving in a threatening long-range shot that Pantilimon pushed away, before a dipping left-footed shot from substitute Sako went just wide.
Sunderland brought on Jeremain Lens and Duncan Watmore in an attempt to find an attacking spark, while Patrick Bamford came on for Palace after Sako lasted only 23 second-half minutes before having to come off through injury.
Lens had a left-footed effort saved by Hennessey after the lively Watmore had created an opening and Wilfried Zaha shot narrowly wide as the game increasingly looked like it was heading towards a goalless draw.
But after Bolasie gave away possession, one throughball from Billy Jones caused a mix-up between Dann and Hennessey, allowing Defoe to steal in and tap home what proved to be the winner.
Pantilimon did well to save from Cabaye to preserve three vital points for the visitors, whose victory was soured slightly when goalscorer Defoe had to limp off in the closing moments.
Key Opta stats:
– Jermain Defoe has now hit seven goals in his nine starts for Sunderland in all competitions this season.
– Sam Allardyce has now won 150 Premier League games as a manager.
– Palace have won only three of their last 11 Premier League home games (W3 D1 L7).
– This was only the Black Cats’ third win in their last 21 Premier League games on the road (W3 D8 L10).
– 10 of the 13 goals the Eagles have conceded in the Premier League this season have come in the second half.
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