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Published: Monday 3rd November 2014 by The News Editor
Sunderland recovered from another own goal gaffe to collect their first away league win of the season at the expense of 10-man Crystal Palace, 3-1.
Looking to break a hoodoo of 12 years without a Barclays Premier League win on a Monday evening, the Black Cats appeared on course for a much-needed victory when Steven Fletcher notched his third goal of the season.
But they made life difficult for themselves once more as substitute Brown scored the sixth Premier League own goal of his distinguished career, and Sunderland’s third in their last three games, only to see Jordi Gomez score from a rare second-half break.
A bad night was made worse for the hosts when captain Mile Jedinak was dismissed in the closing stages having collected two yellow cards, before Fletcher completed an impressive display by tucking home a second in the final seconds.
The result takes Gus Poyet’s side above Palace in the table and the Eagles are now winless in four, only sitting outside of the bottom three courtesy of a better goal record than Leicester.
Poyet stuck with goalkeeper Vito Mannone and the back four which was hammered 8-0 at Southampton for the defeat to Arsenal last weekend but he made two alterations here.
Although Mannone and Brown lost their places in the porous Sunderland side, Poyet moved Santiago Vergini into a central role to accommodate debutant Anthony Reveillere.
He almost rued the decision to play the man who scored such a memorable own goal in the St Mary’s mauling as the Argentina international was lucky to escape conceding a penalty in the opening seconds.
Palace boss Neil Warnock has been outspoken about refereeing decisions costing his side points in recent games and he was left shaking his head having only just taken his place in the dugout when Vergini hacked at Fraizer Campbell.
With the home side shading the opening half an hour it was something of a shock when Fletcher rose to nod in Sunderland’s first away league goal since the opening day of the season.
Warnock was angered again as Palace saw another legitimate penalty decision go against them but he would have also been upset with the toothlessness of his attack in the opening 45 minutes.
But his side turned up the heat in the second half and levelled through a Brown own goal, when the substitute turned Campbell’s backheel over the line.
With their recent luck Sunderland could have been forgiven for letting their heads drop but they kept Palace at bay as the hosts looked for a winner before Gomez struck his maiden league goal, with the Eagles losing Jedinak late on after the Australian picked up a second booking.
The points were assured for the Wearsiders as Fletcher latched onto Liam Bridcutt’s pass to finish coolly past Speroni in stoppage time.
The night could have got off to the worst possible start for Sunderland as a long ball out of the Palace defence was flicked on by Marouane Chamakh to Campbell – and the ex-Sunderland man appeared to be tripped inside the box by a backtracking Vergini inside 30 seconds – but referee Phil Dowd waved away the penalty shouts of the hosts.
Former Manchester City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon made his league debut for Sunderland but went largely untested in the opening half an hour – with Yannick Bolasie blazing a shot out for a throw-in summing up the early stages.
Sunderland proved more accurate with their chances as Patrick van Aanholt just stayed onside to hang up a cross to the back post and Fletcher headed low into the corner of Julian Speroni’s goal to put the visitors ahead.
Warnock had his head in his hands as Palace were denied another strong penalty shout as van Aanholt appeared to bring down Zaha – although it looked like initial contact was outside the box – with Dowd again unmoved.
Either way the challenge proved to be the end of the game for ex-Chelsea youngster van Aanholt, who was carried off on a stretcher – the club confirmed the Dutch defender was taken to hospital with a suspected dislocated shoulder.
Brown came on for Sunderland, before Palace fans unfurled a banner on the stroke of the 38th minute campaigning against the proposal of a Premier League game taking place abroad – with the organisation’s chief executive Richard Scudamore in attendance as a guest of the club.
Fletcher came close to doubling Sunderland’s advantage as a rasping drive stung the palms of Speroni at his near post, with Palace struggling to come to terms with finding themselves behind.
Vergini was the next to test his compatriot as he flashed in a low volley as he sought to prove himself as dangerous in the opposition’s penalty area as he looked in his own a fortnight ago.
Zaha forced Pantilimon into a simple low save after a quickly-taken free-kick as Palace started the second half with more urgency.
Sunderland’s defence did not learn from Palace’s quick free-kick and were undone from a similar routine from a corner as Zaha collected the ball and wriggled free before crossing to Chamakh, whose shot was brilliantly kept out by Pantilimon. However, he could do nothing as Campbell’s backheel hit Brown and flashed past him to level for Palace.
Looking to make amends, Brown did well to cushion a header to Vergini as Sunderland looked to re-establish their lead, although the latter’s second well-struck volley of the night was again kept out by Speroni.
Meanwhile Zaha continued his personal duel with Pantilimon, this time bending a wicked effort towards the Romanian’s far post, with the goalkeeper once again coming out on top as he pushed it behind for a corner.
Palace started to build up a head of steam in search of the winner but it was Sunderland who stunned Selhurst Park into silence as Gomez angled an accurate low drive past a stationary Speroni to put the visitors back in front.
Warnock saw his skipper Jedinak dismissed after picking up a second yellow card after bringing down Gomez in the middle of the park.
Fletcher then sealed the win for Sunderland after Bridcutt had robbed Jason Puncheon of possession to leave send the travelling contingent home happy.
Published: Monday 3rd November 2014 by The News Editor