Sunderland gained a stunning win against Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace after Jermain Defoe’s crucial goal.
Sam Allardyce said he wanted Sunderland ‘not to lose’ the game – and he got his wish, and more, in a frantic match that was lacking in quality at times.
But the Black Cats boss won’t care about that after Defoe pounced on a terrible mix-up between Palace defender Scott Dann and Wayne Hennessy to roll home into an empty net with 10 minutes left.
It was no more than Sunderland deserved after a fine display from the away team at Selhurst Park
Allardyce had gone for a 3-5-2 system, with John O’Shea returning from injury to link up with Sebastian Coates and Younes Kaboul in the centre of defence, with Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt the two wing-backs.
And it certainly was a lot more solid than against Everton, when Sunderland lost 6-2 playing the same system.
Palace striker Connor Wickham was well marshalled against his old team – so much so that he was almost anonymous for vast parts of the game.
Sunderland went closest to opening the scoring on 52 minutes when Coates saw his header cleared off the line from a Seb Larsson corner by former Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye.
Cabaye then strode up the other end and saw his 25-yard shot turned away by Costel Pantilimon.
Wayne Hennessy saved from Yann M’Vila as Duncan Watmore, buoyed after signing a new contract, looked a real menace after his introduction from the bench.
Palace remained a threat with their pace in attack, but lacked precision from their crosses with Kaboul in dominant form.
And when Defoe put pressure on Dann for a hopeful through ball, the Palace centre-half inexplicably failed to clear his lines, allowing the Sunderland striker to nick the ball past Hennessy and pass it into an open net.
Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; McArthur, Cabaye; Zaha, Puncheon (Sako, Bamford), Bolasie; Wickham (Chamakh). Subs: Speroni, Kelly, Ledley, Jedinak.
SAFC: Pantilimon, Jones, van Aanholt, Cattermole, Larsson (Watmore), Kaboul, O’Shea, Defoe (Graham), M’Vila, Coates, Fletcher (Lens). Subs: Johnson, Toivonen, Yedlin, Mannone.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (Bradford)