O’Shea blunder sees Sunderland slump

Steven Fletcher scores at Selhurst Park
Steven Fletcher scores at Selhurst Park
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Crystal Palace 3 Sunderland 1

JOHN O’SHEA’S clanger cost Sunderland a point at newly-promoted Crystal Palace, as the Black Cats suffered a second Premier League defeat out of three.

Steven Fletcher’s goal on his Sunderland comeback looked to have a rescued a draw for Paolo Di Canio’s side after a dreadful first half performance at Selhurst Park.

Danny Gabbidon bundled the ball home in the ninth minute, as Sunderland conceded from a set piece for the third successive top flight outing.

But after the half-time introduction of Fletcher, Sunderland drew level when the Scotland international - making his first appearance since March - headed home Jack Colback’s cross.

Sunderland looked like they would come away with at least a point, but then catastrophe struck as O’Shea was caught napping and brought down Dwight Gayle for both a penalty and a red card.

Gayle scored from the spot before Palace sealed a 3-1 win in stoppage time when Stuart O’Kefe curled home a beautiful shot from the edge of the area.

Sunderland were dealt a blow prior to kick-off after £6million summer signing Jozy Altidore was ruled out with a hamstring strain.

With Stephane Sessegnon also missing - after the Benin international was charged with drink-driving in midweek - Paolo Di Canio named Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won together up front.

There was one other change to the side which drew at Southampton seven days earlier, with David Vaughan replacing the injured Craig Gardner in the starting line-up.

Crystal Palace were unchanged from the side which lost at Stoke in their previous Premier League encounter, with Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips on the bench for the hosts.

After an opening devoid of quality, it was Palace who took the lead in the ninth minute, albeit scorer Danny Gabbidon knew nothing about it.

Jose Campana’s corner from the left bobbled around in the Sunderland six-yard box before deflecting off Ondrej Celustka and then Gabbibon into the Black Cats net, with Keiren Westwood stranded on his line.

Sunderland had a golden chance to level in the 21st minute when Celustka curled in an inviting cross from the right, but Ji was caught between going for a diving header or the volley and eventually did neither, with the goal gaping four yards out.

Jason Puncheon scuffed a left-footed shot just past the post in the 26th minute when he raced forward, cut inside off the right flank and let fly with a low effort from the edge of the area.

Palace almost doubled their lead on the three minutes before the interval after Sunderland were cut wide open on the counter-attack.

Mile Jedinak opted to try his luck with a right-footed effort from the edge of the area, which curled inches wide of the far post.

HALF-TIME Crystal Palace 1 Sunderland 0

Sunderland made a change at the interval with Steven Fletcher introduced for Ji.

Jedinak tried his luck from distance again in the 56th minute, but his right-footed effort from 20 yards cleared the crossbar by a foot.

But in the 65th minute, it was Sunderland who drew level as Fletcher marked his return with an instant impact.

The Scotland international started the move when he laid the ball off to fellow substitute Charis Mavrias, who found the overlapping Jack Colback down the left-hand touchline.

Colback’s cross was pinpoint onto the head of the onrushing Fletcher, who headed it back across Julian Speroni into the bottom corner.

Sunderland almost netted a second in the 75th minute when Gabbidon - under pressure from Fletcher - hooked the ball over Speroni, but inches wide of the post.

Two minutes later though, Sunderland were the architects of their own downfall after John O’Shea completely misread Chamakh’s hopeful ball forward and allowed it to come across him.

O’Shea brought down Dwight Gayle who was in on goal and referee Lee Probert had no choice than to point to the spot, and issue a straight red card to the Sunderland skipper.

Gayle stepped up himself and smashed the ball down the middle, with Keiren Westwood diving to his right.

Westwood kept Sunderland in contention in the 84th minute when he blocked Jonny Williams’ shot after the substitute found space down the left-hand channel of the area.

Kagisho Dikgacoi then his luck with a minute to go from 25 yards, with a right-footed drive that Westwood tipped over the top.

But Palace did add a third in stoppage time when the ball rolled to substitute Stuart O’Keefe on the edge of the Sunderland area and he unleashed a beautiful left-footed shot which looped over Westwood and crashed in off the bar.

FULL-TIME Crystal Palace 3 Sunderland 1

CRYSTAL PALACE: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Campana (Williams 54), Puncheon, Gayle (Wilbraham 83), Chamakh (O’Keefe 83). Subs not used: Alexander, Ramage, Dobbie, Phillips. Booked: Delaney (24)

SUNDERLAND: Westwood, Celustka, O’Shea, Diakite, Colback, Johnson, Larsson, Vaughan, Giaccherini (Mavrias 61), Wickham, Ji (Fletcher 46). Subs not used: Mannone, Cuellar, Cabral, Karlsson, Roberge.

Attendance: 22,671