Jermain Defoe scored twice inside two minutes as Sunderland secured a valuable three points with a 4-0 victory over fellow Premier League relegation candidates Crystal Palace.
Defoe’s quickfire double in first-half stoppage time came as part of a sensational five-minute spell in which Sunderland struck three times and put the game beyond doubt to end a run of six winless top-flight matches.
The Black Cats join Palace on 19 points but remain bottom due to Hull City’s surprise 2-0 victory over Liverpool, with former Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce failing to build on his first Premier League triumph in charge of the Eagles in midweek.
Allardyce named an unchanged line-up from Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Bournemouth, but they fell behind to Lamine Kone’s strike – though questions may be asked as to whether Billy Jones fouled Wayne Hennessey in the build-up.
Didier Ndong scored his first Sunderland goal with a brilliant 25-yard strike in the 43rd minute, before Defoe’s brace prompted jeers from the Selhurst Park faithful with one fan running on to
remonstrate with defender Damien Delaney.
David Moyes’ team, who held title challengers Tottenham to a goalless draw in midweek, rested on their comfortable cushion in the second period, seeing out a confidence-boosting victory in which they matched the amount of goals scored in their previous nine away matches.
Palace came under early pressure and fell behind in controversial circumstances after 10 minutes.
Hennessey spilled the ball under a challenge from Jones which referee Andre Marriner did not deem a foul, and Kone reacted quickly by following up his initial header with a volley from the floor.
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) February 4, 2017
Palace found it difficult to break down Moyes’ well-organised side and James Tomkins failed to make the most of a rare chance when he headed wide from inside the six-yard box.
Yohan Cabaye was unable to run off a knock and was replaced by Joe Ledley in the 27th minute, and a loose touch from the Wales international was punished by Ndong when he rifled a brilliant 25-yard shot in off the right-hand post.
That kick-started a sensational end to the first half, with Defoe making an untracked run into the area and drilling a cool finish across Hennessey in the first minute of stoppage time.
The former England striker added his second two minutes later, latching onto Adnan Januzaj’s excellent throughball before turning Tomkins and firing home to send Palace down the tunnel amid a chorus of boos.
4 – Crystal Palace have conceded four first half goals in a Premier League match for the first time. Shock.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 4, 2017
Injuries to Jack Rodwell – who ended his remarkable run of 37 winless Premier League starts for the Black Cats – and John O’Shea enabled Darron Gibson and Joleon Lescott to make their Sunderland debuts shortly after the restart.
Palace’s lacklustre attempts to try to reduce the deficit proved fruitless, Christian Benteke sending an overhead kick way off target in the 72nd minute.
Januzaj arrowed an effort narrowly wide before injury saw him make way for Steven Pienaar.
Jason Denayer produced a brilliant goal-line clearance to stop Jason Puncheon’s shot from the edge of the box, and Benteke shot narrowly wide, ensuring a fourth top-flight clean sheet of the season for Sunderland.
For Palace, the afternoon ended with angry fans hurling abuse at their players as they left the field.
Key Opta stats:
– This was Sunderland’s biggest margin of victory in an away Premier League game since beating Bradford City 4-0 in October 1999.
– Crystal Palace have lost eight of their last nine Premier League games at Selhurst Park, including the last five in a row.
– Jermain Defoe has netted six goals in his last six Premier League games versus Crystal Palace.
– Adnan Januzaj provided two assists in a Premier League game for the first time in his career.
– Crystal Palace conceded four first half goals in a Premier League match for the first time.
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