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    Crystal Palace 0-1 Sunderland: First Away Win for Black Cats

    An error from Scott Dann late in the game was all Jermain Defoe needed to gift Sunderland their first away win of the season. The usually reliable Dann hesitated in the presence of Defoe and failed to shepherd the ball to his keeper or clear it into touch, instead gifting the ball to the diminutive striker who rounded the goalkeeper Hennessey to score a priceless goal for Sunderland.

    Defoe takes advantage of the confusion between defender and goalkeeper to nick the winner

    This win could not have come at a better time for Big Sam and Sunderland, who would have felt themselves sliding inevitably towards relegation after recent results. However, on a weekend where Newcastle, Norwich and Aston Villa all lost and unlucky Bournemouth only picking up a point, relegation no longer seems like the formality it was a few days ago.

    The result also highlights Crystal Palace's worrying home form once again. Despite making their best ever start to a Premier League season, the Eagles have won only three of their last eleven home games in the league, whilst losing seven. As good as their away form has been they will need to start playing much better at Selhurst Park if they harbour realistic ambitions of playing in Europe next season.

    Sam Allardyce had highlighted Sunderland's need to stop conceding so many goals before the match, as they were conceding a league high three goals a game on average. He took action and went with five at the back to try to combat the speed and trickery of Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie. This tactic was understandable given that they conceded six goals in their last away encounter at Everton. It also worked as Palace had much more possession but could not make anything happen in and around the box, Sunderland's three centre backs mopped up any danger the entire night,

    The match itself was a cagey affair and chances were at a premium for the majority of the game. After some early Sunderland pressure which saw Steven Fletcher shooting over from a Jermain Defoe knockdown and Patrick Van Aanholt put an effort wide, the game settled into a pattern of Palace pressure and possession but no chances, with a Bolasie shot straight at the keeper all Palace could manage.

    The away side then almost took the lead early in the second half when Sebastian Coates connected with a fine header from a corner but Yohan Cabaye was able to block on the line. Palace again started to control possession but were limited by a fine Sunderland defence to speculative efforts, Cabaye and haf time substitute Bakary Sako forced good saves from Pantilimon. 

    Duncan Watmore came on and provided and injection of real intent when he was involved in a promising move down the right side which ended with Jermain Lens drawing a good save from Wayne Hennessey. At this point the game looked set to finish a draw but Billy Jones made a through pass which should have been easily dealt with by Scott Dann, however credit to Jermain Defoe who hassled the big centre back and forced the mistake and poked the ball into the empty net for his 7th goal of the season.

    Defoe wound up hobbling off with an injury but was able to watch his teammates hang on for a huge three points. Palace will be hugely disappointed to lose to Sunderland at home again after a 3-1 reverse last season but they were not clinical enough and were often let down by their final pass. Big Sam on the other hand will be delighted with the result and the performance, as typical a Big Sam away performance as you are likely to see with an organised defence and strong, uncompromising midfield. His 150th Premier League win won't mean much right now as Sunderland still sit in the bottom three, and after Stoke's visit to the North East next week they face Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool in a daunting December period. Next up for Crystal Palace is Alan Pardew's former employers Newcastle United.

    By Darren Beck (@DarrenBeck13)
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    Item Reviewed: Crystal Palace 0-1 Sunderland: First Away Win for Black Cats Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Darren Beck
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