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Palace crumble in relegation scrap

ON THE MARK: Sunderland's Lamine Kone

THERE ARE times when even the most tolerant of people reach breaking point. And so it proved for Crystal Palace supporters on a dismal afternoon at Selhurst Park. After seeing their side ship four first half goals against relegation rivals Sunderland for some fans it was just too much.

The players were booed off at half-time and one fan got onto the pitch to confront Damien Delaney on an afternoon Sam Allardyce will want to forget against his former club. But Big Sam was understanding of fans’ reaction.

“The fans don’t put [the team] under a huge amount of pressure. They want to support them and get behind them, but we need to give them something to get behind so I apologise to them for coming and seeing what they saw in the first half today.”

What the fans did witness was carnage. Despite the home side maintaining two thirds of possession, Sunderland were able to carve open Palace’s flimsy defence with ease. The defence consistently stood off and allowed the rampant Black Cats to pounce.

Lamine Kone – back from African Cup of Nations duty – was first to take advantage, capitalising a free kick into the box by Seb Larsson that Palace failed to clear at the first time of asking. With the home side trailing by just one goal, Palace still played with purpose and created a series of chances to level.

But three late goals in six minutes destroyed all hope and made the second half a case of damage limitation.
The floodgates opened when Didier Ndong struck a superb effort from 25 yards before Jermain Defoe twice punished lax Palace defending with two excellent finishes.

Sunderland easily controlled the second half to secure their first away Premier League win in six games and join Palace on 19 points.

Moyes was understanding beaming. Sunderland had scored four first half gaols for the first time this century and the result must surely rank up there the defeat he exacted on Barcelona when managing Real Sociedad during his short stint
in Spanish football.

"I don't think I can think of many times as a manager I have been 4-0 up at half-time, I don't know if I ever have been. It gets us three points and more confidence, more belief. It is going to be a tough job but if we had lost it would have been much tougher. Every game is must-win," he said.

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