Wes Brown’s own-goal added to Sunderland’s lengthy list of defensive disasters but this time Gus Poyet’s side overcame their self-destructive tendencies to secure a win to lift them out of the bottom three.
Humiliated 8-0 at Southampton on their last away trip and architects of their own downfall at Arsenal nine days previously, Poyet’s team stopped the rot, with goals from Steven Fletcher and Jordi Gomez, either side of Brown’s mishap. Fletcher’s late late second added further gloss to the win.
“I think my last Premier League goal was two years ago but the most important thing is the three points. I think we deserved it,” said Gomez.
Victory moved Sunderland above Palace after a night of frustration capped by the 87th-minute dismissal of Mile Jedinak after the skipper collected a second yellow card.
Poyet had attempted to stem the rash of costly mistakes made by his side by dropping keeper Vito Mannone and centre-back Brown although an alarming start suggested the changes may not have the desired effect.
With just 25 second gone, the home fans were convinced Fraizer Campbell was tripped by Santiago Vergini as he ran onto Marouane Chamakh’s headed flick. Crucially, referee Phil Dowd thought otherwise.
Poyet’s grateful side made the most of the let-off, before taking a 31st minute lead through Fletcher’s excellent header. The move was started by an excellent cross-field ball from John O’Shea to left-back Patrick van Aanholt who picked out Fletcher with an accurate cross and the Scotland international, who could face Ireland later this month, finished with a well-placed header from 12 yards out.
Palace appeared to be still smarting from the rejected penalty appeal and they had further grounds for complaint when Wilfried Zaha was brought down by Van Aanholt two minutes after the goal. Once again Dowd ignored home claims, adding to Warnock’s frustration.
Van Aanholt was injured in the challenge and stretchered off with a shoulder injury to be replaced by Brown, whose run of bad luck was destined to continue after the break.
Zaha’s left wing cross was met by Chamakh, whose header drew a great save from Costel Pantilimon, and when Campbell back-heeled the ball across goal, Brown stuck out a leg and diverted it into his own net.
At that point Palace looked likely to go on and win but Gomez produced game’s the decisive moment, placing a left footed shot beyond Speroni from 20 yards. Fletcher slotted home a second in added time.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Speroni ; Kelly 6, Dann 7, Hangeland 4, Ward 7; Jedinak 7, Ledley 6; Zaha 6, Chamakh 6 (Puncheon 76, 6), Bolasie 6; Campbell 7.
SUNDERLAND: Pantilimon 7; Vergini 5, O’Shea 7, Reveillere 6, Van Aanholt 7 (Brown 37, 5); Cattermole 6, Buckley 6 (Bridcutt 82,6), Larsson 6, Gomez 6; Wickham 5 (Altidore 78, 6); Fletcher 8.
Referee: Phil Dowd.