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    Crystal Palace 0-1 Sunderland Report

    By Scott Hunt

    Crystal Palace’s stuttering home form continued as they slipped to a shock defeat to struggling Sunderland at Selhurst Park.

    Jermain Defoe capitalised on a string of defensive errors to seal the vital win for Sunderland ten minutes from time.

    Palace’s good start to the season has been built on the back of their impressive away form and they have now won just three of their last 11 Premier League home games – losing seven of those.

    It was only a second win in 16 Premier League games for Sunderland and it was built on a superb defensive display masterminded by their new boss Sam Allardyce which yielded only their second clean sheet of the season. Victory brought up the 150th win in the Premier League for Allardyce – only four managers have more victories to their name.

    Palace manager Alan Pardew says his players were below their best and singled out their lack of killer instinct in the final third as the main factor in their defeat.

    "A few players were not really at their best tonight,” Pardew told his post match press conference.

    “Unfortunately we couldn’t find a way through. We should have been cleaner and more incisive, especially in the final third.

    “We should have been a bit more simplistic and put pressure on that back five.

    “I’m disappointed for my group of players. They gave everything but just couldn’t get that balance right tonight.

    “At 0-0 as the home team there’s a little anxiety, you want to win. We had a lot of territory and possession, but few real chances.

    "You’re always going to be vulnerable when pushing forward, which you sense as a manager of the away team.”

    Sunderland started the brighter of the two sides with Steven Fletcher, Patrick van Aahholt and Defoe all missing the target when presented with a sight of goal.

    Across the game Palace dominated possession, finishing with 67% of the ball but found Sunderland’s back five formation impossible to break down. Yannick Bolasie had an effort from distance that was comfortably held by Costel Pantilimon and that was the best the home side could manage in the first half.

    Sunderland came close to snatching the lead after the break but Yohan Cabaye cleared Sebastian Coates’ header off the line. Palace then had a string of efforts with Cabaye and Bakary Sako both going close with long-range strikes.

    But, with the game drifting towards a goalless draw, the Eagles shot themselves in the foot with ten minutes remaining. Bolasie tried an extravagant flick in the Sunderland half and lost the ball before Billy Jones played a through ball looking for Defoe which appeared to be overhit. Scott Dann was favourite to get to the ball but as he went back and keeper Wayne Hennessey came forward the pair became muddled, allowing the ball to run for Defoe who tapped into an empty net to secure the win. 

    The three points is not enough to drag Sunderland out of the relegation zone but it did lift them to 18th – just a point adrift of North East rivals Newcastle. Palace missed the chance to leap up to sixth in the table and so remain in tenth and a point behind Liverpool.

    Palace will be desperate to improve their home form when they welcome Pardew’s old side Newcastle to Selhurst Park this weekend. For Sunderland, they will be targeting three points at home to Stoke on Saturday ahead of a treacherous looking run which sees them face Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool in December.

    Photograph: Nick Potts/PA
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    Item Reviewed: Crystal Palace 0-1 Sunderland Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Scott Hunt
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