SAFC analysis: Sunderland's defeat to Crystal Palace crushing, morale-sapping and a major concern

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At 4.18pm Sunderland fans were in dreamland.

Jermain Defoe had just scored his second goal of the game before wheeling away in delight towards the halfway line with his teammates chasing him.

Sunderland's midfield battles for the ball

Sunderland's midfield battles for the ball

Sunderland were in command and control at that point, leading Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace side by two goals to nil.

Thirty seconds later and Palace scored the first of three goals that would ultimately see them come away from Wearside with all three points.

To lose 3-2 at home when you are 2-0 up after an hour is nowhere near good enough at this level.

Sunderland's game management in the final half hour was woeful.

Pardew, meanwhile, made some shrewd substitutions - all three of which had an instant impact.

With his side 2-1 down, on came ex-Sunderland forward Connor Wickham. And he was a thorn in the side of his former side.

Constantly winning free-kicks, some of them dubious, to keep the ball and pressure on the edge of Sunderland's area.

With 15 minutes left, on came Zeki Fryers and within a minute he had provided the cross for James McArthur to score the equaliser - Patrick van Aanholt beaten in the air.

And his final sub Lee Chung-Yong took the free-kick that Christian Benteke powered home a header from in injury time to add insult to injury for Sunderland.

Palace's first was unfortunate, deflecting in off van Aanholt's boot but for it to come less than a minute after Defoe had scored showed a dismal lack of collective concentration.

The other two goals were both avoidable, with Benteke allowed a free run and header to steal the win in the dying seconds of the game.

The Premier League season is just six games old. There are 32 more to play.

But even at this premature stage of the campaign, this still felt like a crushing defeat.

With Palace and then West Bromwich Albion the visitors to the Stadium of Light in the space of seven days, this week represented a huge opportunity to get some points on the board.

Sunderland surrendered their first chance.

This must be seen as sharp lesson learned but the way the side is leaking goals on home soil in front of their own support is a major concern.