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Sunderland AFC v crystal palace (h)...
match report

Shocking Sunderland remain winless in the Premier League after serving up another shocking capitulation to lose 3 – 2 against Crystal Palace at the SOL on Saturday. A Jermain Defoe brace either side of half time had put the lad’s two goals clear before Alan Pardew’s side capitalised on Sunderland’s woeful defending took all three points back to London thanks to goals from Joe Ledley, James McArthur and Christian Benteke.

After the victory on Wednesday in the EFL Cup at Loftus Road against QPR David Moyes made several changes as Sunderland sought their first league victory of the season. We lined up with Pickford in goal behind a back four of Manquillo, Kone, Djilobdji, and van Aanholt. In midfield Januzaj, Cattermole, Kirchhoff, N’Dong and Pienaar looked to supply lone front man Jermain Defoe.

Sunderland were looking for their first league victory in September since 2012 as our shocking early season form continued last weekend with a dismal showing at White Hart Lane. For all it was only a one goal defeat to one of the strongest teams in the league it was as one sided a game you will see and but for the heroics of Jordan Pickford in goal it could have been a drubbing.

Alan Pardew’s side headed to Wearside on the back of a 4-1 rout over Stoke last weekend and a 2-1 victory on their last visit to the North East a fortnight ago against Middlesbrough. Palace were without centre half Scott Dann who had a hamstring injury but named a strong side with former mag Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke spearing their attack whilst Connor Wickham was named on the bench.

Sunderland kicked off towards the South Stand and despite working hard closing down the visitors it was Palace who had the first chance of the game when Cabaye crossed for Benteke who couldn’t beat Pickford with his header. Benteke had another chance soon after when Sunderland failed to clear a corner but he blazed a volley over the bar.

After fifteen minutes David Moyes was forced into an early change when Steven Pienaar picked up a knock and was replaced by Duncan Watmore. It was a one sided opening half an hour with Sunderland offering very little as an attacking force with Defoe isolated fighting a losing battle trying to hold up long balls played up to him.

Palace should have taken the lead when Jason Puncheon created an opportunity for Christian Benteke after being too strong for Lee Cattermole but the Belgian was guilty of wasting another chance hooking his shot over the bar from close range. After half an hour Sunderland eventually managed an effort on goal and Jermain Defoe almost opened the scoring with an instinctive first time shot after good work from Januzaj but his effort was just off target.

We did take the lead five minutes before the break and it was a somewhat fortuitous opener with Palace guilty of some poor defending. Adnan Januzaj put pressure on Joe Ledley who mishit a pass which fell kindly for Defoe to capitalise on and put Sunderland into the lead with cool finish slotting the ball under Mandanda. Palace had an opportunity to equalise with the last kick of the first half when Andros Townsend lined up a free kick thirty yards from goal but it curled out to safety.

Neither side made any changes at the break and although Sunderland started the second half better than they did the first they were almost caught out ten minutes into the second half. Sunderland actually had a free kick in the Palace half which van Aanholt clipped into the box but when the visitors cleared their pace on the break exploited Sunderland’s lethargic defending and Jason Puncheon was denied by Pickford when he should have done better after being played in by Benteke.

We took the lead with half an hour to go through Defoe who volleyed past Mandanda after van Aanholt’s cross. Defoe had actually just been denied 30 seconds earlier from the keeper who palmed away his shot but he could do nothing with Defoe’s clinical left foot volley into the bottom corner. Just as it seemed Sunderland were on course for their first league victory of the season in typical Sunderland fashion we conceded instantly from the restart.

From their kick off Crystal Palace went straight on the offensive and as Sunderland’s backline dallied Joe Ledley took a shot from 25 yards which via a deflection nestled into the net after wrong footing Pickford. Conceding so soon after scoring was the killer in the game as although we did have another chance to extend our lead with Defoe blazed over, it just seemed Palace were always going to get back into it.

Alan Pardew sent on Connor Wickham for the final fifteen minutes and his introduction coincided with Palace drawing level. Sunderland have looked vulnerable all season defending crosses and did so again when James McArthur got up at the back post against van Aanholt to nod past Pickford. Moyes made a double change with five minutes to go with Paddy McNair and Victor Anichebe replacing Cattermole and Januzaj but it was Palace who would take the victory.

On 90 minutes Andros Townsend almost scored when he surged forward and cut inside Djilobodji and curled a shot wide of the post. With the visitors ending strongly Sunderland conceded a couple of cheap free kicks after fouls by Kone and then Manquillo next to the corner flag. Sunderland yet again failed to deal with the cross with Christian Benteke allowed a free run and jump at Townsend’s set piece to easily nod past Pickford to a chorus of boos from the home crowd.

Final Score: Sunderland 2 Crystal Palace 3

ALS Man of the Match: Jermain Defoe

Aidan Crowe

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