GARY ROWELL: Sunderland luck was overdue

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SUNDERLAND got a rare Monday night win against Crystal Palace after showing fight and character to claim all three points.

They weren’t at their best, nor was it a great game, but the result was all that mattered, especially after the previous two games ended in disappointing defeats.

The highlights were the three goals all clinically taken by the rejuvenated Steven Fletcher and Jordi Gomez, and the performances of Costel Pantilimon and Anthony Reveillere.

Both were making their Premier League debuts and they looked as if they’d been there for years.

But there’s no doubt we rode our luck at times. The key moment of the whole game happened in the very first minute when Palace had a stonewall penalty turned down.

If that had been given, Santiago Vergini would probably have received a red card and Sunderland would have been staring down the barrel of a third consecutive defeat.

But Fletcher was denied a clear penalty in Sunderland’s previous away game at Southampton, and we’ve had plenty of other decisions go against us, so no one should feel guilty about one going our way.

The important thing was for Sunderland to take advantage of the break they were given, and in doing so, did something they have struggled to do in beating a team around them.

They did it the hard way though by gifting Palace their equaliser, with yet another self-inflicted, almost comical own goal, which also had the effect of de-valuing a world-class save from Pantilimon.

That goal gave Palace the momentum and I’m sure I’m not the only Sunderland fan who feared the worst and at that stage I would have taken a draw.

However, Sunderland showed resolve and character to not only hang on for a point, but go back and win the game with two more goals.

Monday’s win doesn’t suddenly make Sunderland a great team – it’s clear there’s still work to be done. But the three points gets them out of the bottom three and buys Gus Poyet time to search for the right combination to take them forwards.