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Match Reports

Match Report : 31/08/2013

31 August 2013

First Premier League goals for Danny Gabbidon, Dwight Gayle and Stuart O'Keefe clinched a first Premier League of the season for the Eagles as they saw off Sunderland 3-1 at Selhurst.

Palace had led at the break after a fortuitous goal from the Welsh defender but were pegged back by a header from Steven Fletcher. But a penalty from club-record signing Gayle and a wonderful strike from O'Keefe in injury time sealed the victory for Ian Holloway's men.

The Eagles began brightly and took the lead in the ninth minute. Jose Campana whipped a corner into the box which deflected first off Ondrej Celustka and finally off an oblivious Gabbidon, who was standing in the right place at the right time to register his first ever Premier League goal.

Having fallen behind Sunderland began to press higher up the pitch in an attempt to draw level but that left them vulnerable to a counter-attack, and Jason Puncheon exploited that by bursting inside from the right and dragged a shot inches wide of the near post on 25 minutes.

But the Black Cats were posing threats down the flanks and Emanuele Giaccherini attempted a curled effort that looked to be troubling Julian Speroni but Gabbidon diverted it away for a corner before it reached the Palace stopper.

Puncheon was enjoying the freedom of Selhurst Park and on 35 minutes he again jinked in from the right flank and let fly from 25 yards but it flashed wide of Keiren Westwood's goal, and then the same man played a perfect first-time pass to free Mile Jedinak who galloped forward before attempting a bent shot into the top corner and was fractions away from celebrating.

It was the same story after the interval and the visitors once again stood off the Eagles skipper so he hammered the ball towards goal and saw his strike fizz over the crossbar.

However against the run of play Paolo di Canio's side were celebrating as they grabbed an equaliser. Jack Colback attacked down the left flank and put a perfect cross over for half-time introduction Steven Fletcher who powered a classic header into the bottom corner of Julian Speroni's net.

That gave Sunderland a second wind and they began to cause a few problems and Gabbidon had to poke a dangerous ball inches past his own post to stop Fletcher again, but on 77 minutes the Eagles were given a massive chance to get the win.

 A loose ball saw Gayle use his pace to beat John O'Shea to the ball just inside the area and the Irish defender lunged in and brought him down for a penalty. After consulting with his assistant, Lee Probert produced a red card for the Sunderland captain and Gayle drilled the spot-kick under Westwood to score his maiden Palace goal.

With the numerical advantage the home side aimed to kill the game off and Jonny Williams has two efforts in quick succession that were straight at Westwood and the keeper got the slightest of fingertips to tip over a blast by Kagisho Dikgacoi.

But the icing was put on the cake by O'Keefe who had only appeared as a substitute 10 minutes before but swept a glorious first-time shot into the Holmesdale goal from just outside the box to secure the first three points of the campaign.

Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Campana (Williams 53), Puncheon, Gayle (O'Keefe 83), Chamakh (Wilbraham 83). Subs: Alexander, Ramage, Dobbie, Phillips.

Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, O'Shea, Diakite, Colback, Larsson, Vaughan, Johnson, Giaccherini (Mavrias 61), Wickham, Ji (Fletcher 46). Subs: Mannone, Cuellar, Cabral, Karlsson, Roberge. 

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