Sunderland v Crystal Palace
Connor Wickham bagged his second brace in three days but Fabio Borini’s late equaliser cruelly denied Palace the league victory they so desperately crave.
The striker scored twice in the second half to turn around Alan Pardew’s side’s fortunes, who’d trailed at the break after Dame N’Doye’s fortuitous opener, but the Sunderland’s substitute’s fine late strike extended the Eagles’ search for a Premier League win to 11 matches.
A lively start saw Wilfried Zaha lash wide first-time on nine minutes but 60 seconds later he turned DeAndre Yedlin inside out with some dazzling skill before getting through the Sunderland defence, however a deflection took the sting out of his effort.
Jack Rodwell then fired at Wayne Hennessey from 25 yards but the Eagles probed again and won a free-kick which Yohan Cabaye clipped towards Wickham but the ball span into Damien Delaney’s path, however Vito Mannone blocked the ball at close range.
The end-to-end fashion continued and Wahbi Zhazri saw a low, arrowed drive take a touch off a Palace defender and skid just wide, and on 20 minutes Wickham - on the halfway line on the right - played a terrific pass into Yannick Bolasie, who controlled the ball with his chest and played in the overlapping Jordon Mutch but he could only hit the side-netting from a tight angle.
The game quietened down after that but just after the half-hour mark the best chance of the half fell Palace’s way when Scott Dann escaped from his marker at a corner and headed Cabaye’s delivery goalwards but Mannone managed to make a superb reaction stop to push it over.
And that save proved vital as on 38 minutes the hosts went in front in fortuitous circumstances. Jermain Defoe collected the ball just outside the box and looked to be going nowhere until he found N’Doye who tried a speculative shot from range, and he got lucky as it deflected off Dann and beat the wrong-footed Hennessey to register his first goal for Sunderland and hand them an undeserved lead.
Defoe then saw two efforts go straight down the throat of the Palace keeper and then in the final action of the half a dangerous Khazri free-kick struck Younes Kaboul and somehow spun over the crossbar as Alan Pardew’s side looked to regroup at the break.
That’s what happened as seconds after the game’s resumption, Wickham saw a header flash over from a Zaha cross from the right but on 61 minutes he did get himself on the scoresheet.
Zaha began the move as he brought the ball forward and squared to Bolasie who in turn played a neat disguised pass into the feet of Wickham. His first touch gave him the yard of space he needed to get a sight of goal around Yedlin, and he bent the ball around Mannone and watched it flick the post and cross the line to score his third in three days.
Then six minutes later he turned the game on its head as he notched yet again. Mutch lofted a corner towards the back post where Dann competed with two Sunderland defenders for the ball, which came down perfectly for Wickham to lash into the net from close range and put Palace ahead.
That looked to have given Palace a precious three points but with four minutes to go Patrick van Aanholt played the ball down the right into Borini’s path, and the Italian striker brilliantly lashed it first-time on the angle past Hennessey to snatch a point for his side.
Sunderland: Mannone, Yedlin, O'Shea (Kaboul 28), Kone, van Aanholt, Kirchoff (Cattermole 63, Borini 80), Khazri, M'Vila, Rodwell, N'Doye, Defoe. Subs not used: Pickford, Jones, Toivonen, Larsson.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly, Cabaye (Ledley 72), Jedinak, Zaha, Mutch, Bolasie (Sako 76), Wickham (Adebayor 84). Subs not used: McCarthy, Mariappa, Lee, Gayle.