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Crystal Palace 1-3 Sunderland: Eagles downed by Fletcher and Gomez

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By Mark Ritson at Selhurst Park

CRYSTAL Palace fell to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at home to Sunderland this evening and now sit one place above the relegation zone on goal difference after ten games played so far this season.

It was a night to forget for Neil Warnock and his side, with his side failing to really test visiting goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.

Steven Fletcher gave Sunderland the lead before wrapping up the points either side of Jordi Gomez's clean striker.

Palace equalised when Wes Brown turned the ball into his own net, and they did enjoy decent spells forcing Sunderland back but without converting.

Mile Jedinak was sent off towards the end before Fletcher grabbed his second goal, too.

The Eagles should have been given a penalty inside the opening 25 seconds when Fraizer Campbell burst into the box and as he was about to shoot, Santiago Vergini clearly tripped his leg yet referee Phil Dowd wasn't convinced.

However, television replays clearly showed the defender didn't get any of the ball. It was a huge let-off for the visitors.

Palace went up a gear and Wilfried Zaha fired in two dangerous crosses from the right, with Marouane Chamakh mis-controlling the first and then the second was a few inches too high for Fraizer Campbell.

The pressure kept coming from the Eagles, pinning the Black Cats back in their own half, and a corner routine from Yannick Bolasie nearly found Mile Jedinak getting in front of his marker.

There was only one team in it inside the opening 25 minutes, with Sunderland rather poor and offering very little.

But then out of nothing they took the lead through Steven Fletcher on the half-hour mark. The striker pulled away from his marker and planted a powerful downward header from 12 yards into the bottom corner.

The goal ended a run of five hours and six minutes without an away goal in the Premier League for the visitors.

Fletcher had another go shortly after which Julian Speroni did well to parry, but the goal really did knock the rhythm and stuffing out of the Eagles, with a rather flat response heading into the break.

Sunderland went close to doubling their lead on the stroke of half-time when Vergini was in acres of space and his effort was superbly parried by Speroni to his left.

But the Eagles had enough penalty shout turned down when Zaha looked to have been brought down just inside the box from Patrick van Aanholt, but again Dowd wasn't having any of it.

And the defender, as a result of his challenge, was stretched off and taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder.

Palace started the second half brightly, with Zaha's goal-bound shot deflecting off Wes Brown for a corner.

And after further pressure they finally levelled thanks to an own goal by Brown.

Chamakh's downward header was superbly stopped right in the line by goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, Campbell played the ball back across and it cannoned off the former Manchester United man and in via the near post.

The Eagles continued to mount pressure on the visitors, with Zaha in the thick of the action in particular and also forcing a flying save from Pantilimon.

Jason Puncheon came on for Chamakh with 14 minutes remaining, but Sunderland stunned south London when they regained their lead ten minutes remaining.

Jordi Gomez got it, drilling a shot from just outside the box into the bottom corner to beat Speroni in front of the Holmesdale.

And to make matters worse, Palace were reduced to ten men in the final stages when Jedinak was shown a second yellow for a foul in the middle of the park.

With five minutes added on, the hosts threw men forward in search of an equaliser but with the danger of being exposed on the break.

But whenever they could, Sunderland wound down the clock as Palace began to run out of steam.

And on the counter, they wrapped up the points when Puncheon lost the ball and Sunderland broke, with the ball falling to Fletcher on the edge of the box and he did the rest to compound a miserable night for the south Londoners.

Jedinak also misses Saturday's trip to Old Trafford too.

Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Hangeland (Gayle 84), Dann, Ward, Jedinak, Ledley, Zaha, Bolasie, Chamakh (Puncheon 76), Campbell.

Subs Not Used: Hennessey, Mariappa, Bannan, McArthur, Doyle.

Referee: Phil Dowd

Crystal Palace 1-3 Sunderland: Eagles downed by Fletcher and Gomez


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