Deadly Defoe pounces to punish frustrated Palace
Published 24/11/2015 | 02:30
Sam Allardyce's first return to London since leaving West Ham in the summer brought Sunderland a not undeserved victory thanks to a calamitous late error in the Crystal Palace defence.
Jermain Defoe, due to be substituted shortly beforehand, took advantage to give his team a first away win of the season after taking one point from the previous 18 on the road and move them above Bournemouth in the bottom three.
After three defeats in his opening four games as manager, Allardyce pulled off a tactical triumph in a scrappy, stop-start game constantly interrupted by minor infringements.
No Palace striker has managed a league goal this season. Connor Wickham, scorer of only 15 in 91 Sunderland appearances and none at his new club, was on the pitch for an anonymous 75 minutes and subs Patrick Bamford and Marouane Chamakh fared no better.
Sunderland reverted to the system of three central defenders that had collapsed ignominiously in a 6-2 defeat at Everton earlier this month and found it working considerably better. The personnel were different, with Younès Kaboul and John O'Shea joining Sebastian Coates.
By the interval all Palace had managed in attack were shots from Yannick Bolasie and James McArthur that should have been recorded by the stats men as "straight at goalkeeper".
Pardew waited no longer than the interval to make a change, sacrificing Jason Puncheon to send on Bakary Sako, who would last only 23 minutes before pulling a muscle. In that period he still produced by far Palace's best effort to date, fizzing a shot just past the far post.
The visitors threatened as Coates met Sebastian Larsson's corner with a header and Yohan Cabaye, sensibly positioned inside a post, kicked it off the line.
Sunderland subs Duncan Watmore and Jeremain Lens then combined to give Wayne Hennessey his first save of the night but with 10 minutes to go, the Wales keeper and his centre-half Scott Dann combined to lose the game. Dann tried to shield the ball then poked it in panic wide of his onrushing keeper and Defoe took full advantage.