Thursday 21 February 2019

Fan arrested after Delaney incident

Crystal Palace 0 Sunderland 4

Crystal Palace's Joe Ledley and Sunderland's Didier Ibrahim Ndong (left) battle for the ball. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA
Crystal Palace's Joe Ledley and Sunderland's Didier Ibrahim Ndong (left) battle for the ball. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA

A Crystal Palace supporter has been arrested after he invaded the Selhurst Park pitch to confront Damien Delaney at half-time of this defeat.

The result has left the troubled Eagles deep in relegation trouble and represented a new low in their season, while Sunderland's was revived. Palace conceded three goals in the six minutes leading up to half-time, leading to widespread booing among their fans and chants of "you're not fit to wear the shirt".

Sunderland's Lamine Kone in action with Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters
Sunderland's Lamine Kone in action with Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters

It was as they were walking off at half-time that the fan broke onto the pitch to confront Delaney, coming face to face with the defender and appearing to grab his shirt before being restrained by security. Delaney was replaced by Andros Townsend at the break.

Palace boss Allardyce was asked if that incident contributed to Delaney's substitution, and he said: "No. We played a very, very good game in that system with that team at Bournemouth (on Tuesday), and then completely lost the way we should have played in that system at home. I had to change the system to try and help the players get better."

Strengthened by their recruitment throughout January and the returns of those playing at the African Nations Cup, Sunderland left their hosts at their greatest risk of relegation since they returned to the Premier League in 2013.

Even after Jermain Defoe's two goals doubled the advantage built by earlier finishes from Lamine Kone and Didier N'Dong, Sunderland's latest win was not enough to lift them from the bottom of the Premier League standings, although they moved level on points with Palace.

Sunderland manager David Moyes. Photo: Andrew Winning/Reuters
Sunderland manager David Moyes. Photo: Andrew Winning/Reuters

Crucially, manager David Moyes has a squad he has faith in, and having overseen such a positive performance after their resilience earned a 0-0 draw with Tottenham on Tuesday night, the bigger picture has vastly improved.

Palace felt their 2-0 win at Bournemouth could provide the platform they needed to rebuild their confidence and move towards safety.

It regardless took only 10 minutes for that illusion to be shattered. From a right-wing free-kick, Sebastian Larsson crossed to Kone, who after goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey spilt his header under pressure from Billy Jones, reacted to finish from the floor inside the far post.

The goal instantly drained Palace's confidence, and after Larsson was perhaps fortunate not to be sent off for a second yellow card, another followed in the 43rd minute. Palace substitute Joe Ledley, who had replaced the injured Yohan Cabaye, was caught in possession on the edge of the area by N'Dong, who powerfully fired home via the post.

It was at that point Palace appeared to give up and gifted Sunderland the easiest of goals. Adnan Januzaj was given an abundance of time and space on the left to play in Defoe, who controlled possession before shooting into the far corner with his weaker left foot.

The two combined again for Sunderland's second goal in first-half stoppage time. N'Dong found Januzaj on the right, who played a delightful pass into the area to Defoe, from where he turned and held off James Tomkins before scoring with another low left-footed finish.

Palace improved after the break, but Sunderland - who handed Bryan Oviedo his debut from the start and Darron Gibson and Joleon Lescott theirs from the bench - were content not to concede thereafter, in the knowledge their season may just be turning.

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