Phil Smith: Sunderland follow the Big Sam template and deliver textbook win over Crystal Palace

Oviedo was excellent on debut

Oviedo was excellent on debut

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'Big Sam, what's the score? Big Sam, Big Sam, what's the score?', was the somewhat disorientating chant from the away end.

For this Sunderland display was so similar to that kind that the Black Cats delivered in the latter stages of last season, the kind that made Big Sam, albeit briefly, a hero.

Sunderland sat deep, they defended in numbers, they rode their luck.

They put bodies on the line, waited for their moment, and pounced with a clinical edge we have not seen this season.

It had Big Sam's stamp all over it, but the cries of 'Moyesy, giz a wave' told you that this stunning victory was masterminded by an altogether different source.

The echoes of the 3-0 away win at Norwich last season are impossible to ignore.

A defeat that not only lifts the spirits on Wearside immeasurably but will be a demoralising blow for a direct relegation rival.

A week ago, Sunderland and Hull looked doomed.

Yet both have taken four points from two games, clean sheets in both, and suddenly those above them will be beginning to panic. Now the Black Cats have a home game against an out of form Southampton, and a precious chance to build momentum.

As so often the case in these six-point games, the margins were eye-wateringly fine. It would have been easy for the referee to give a foul in the build-up to the first goal, or to send Seb Larsson off when he tripped Wilfried Zaha up.

James Tomkins missed a glorious opportunity to make it 1-1 when he headed wide from just yards out. Luck was on Sunderland's side, but they did deserve it.

Lamine Kone was awesome at the back. With his team under the cosh and Palace sensing an opportunity, he stood firm and got through an incredible amount of headers, keeping Christian Benteke as quiet as is possible to do.

Bryan Oviedo was superb. In the opening minutes Zaha was finding plenty of joy down the right, but Oviedo relished the battle and slowly but surely asserted his dominance. The contrast with Patrick van Aanholt, wandering for Sunderland's fourth goal, was stark.

It was not a perfect performance, far from it.

But the image that sticks in the mind is that of Jermain Defoe and Vito Mannone celebrating in front of the Sunderland fans. Defoe had raced down the touchline to share the moment with the travelling support, Mannone haring across from his box to embrace him.

It's a reminder that there is a core of players here who have seen this all before, and come through the other side.

They had their fair share of fortune on Saturday but make a habit of winning these high-pressure games.

Perhaps they have one more great escape in them.