A brace from Steven Fletcher and fine strike from Jordi Gomez was enough for Sunderland to collect the points in a topsy-turvy encounter at Selhurst Park.
Fletcher’s header gave Gus Poyet’s side a first-half lead but Palace found a way back into the game when Wes Brown netted an own goal, but Gomez’s 25 yard drive and a late strike from the Scottish striker condemned the hosts to defeat, who also saw Mile Jedinak sent off in the final stages.
The encounter was just 25 seconds old when the first flashpoint arrived. Fraizer Campbell burst into the area and was challenged by Santiago Vergini just as he was about to pull the trigger but the Eagles’ penalty appeals were waved away.
Neil Warnock’s side controlled the majority of the early exchanges but struggled to create many decent goalscoring opportunities. Costel Pantilimon was untroubled by a couple of wayward shots from Yannick Bolasie and at the other end Gomez wasted a free-kick in a good position by firing it straight into the Palace wall.
But on the half-hour mark the visitors took the lead with their first attempt on target. Gomez found Patrick van Aarnholt on the left and he clipped the ball towards the penalty spot where Steven Fletcher was waiting to head the ball downwards, and it spun past Julian Speroni to give the Black Cats a surprise lead.
Having provided the goal, van Aarnholt’s day quickly turned for the worse when he was forced off with a suspected dislocated shoulder after challenging Wilfried Zaha on the edge of the area and was replaced by Brown, but in injury-time Speroni was forced to push away a half-volley by Vergini to prevent his side from trailing by two goals at the interval.
After the break Palace once again came out looking dangerous and Zaha drilled a low shot towards goal after receiving a short corner but despite his 6’8’’ frame Pantilimon got down well to keep it out, but on 53 minutes he was beaten.
Once again Zaha was found with a short corner and he crossed for Marouane Chamakh who brought a superb save out of Sunderland’s shot-stopper at point-blank range, but the ball came back to Campbell whose backheel cannoned off Brown and into the net.
Sunderland came back at the hosts though and once again Speroni denied his compatriot Vergini when the defender latched onto a downward header and crashed a shot towards goal which was beaten away by the Argentinian.
But with 12 minutes to go the lead was surrendered again. Will Buckley drifted inside from the right and squared the ball to Gomez, and he let the ball come across his body before drilling into first time into the bottom corner from 25 yards out to put his side back in front.
The Eagles’ evening got even worse when Jedinak was dismissed with four minutes to go when he picked up a second booking after tangling with Gomez, and in injury-time a disappointing gloss was put on the scoreline when Liam Bridcutt played in Fletcher who poked the ball past Speroni to seal the victory for Sunderland.
Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Hangeland (Gayle 84), Dann, Ward, Jedinak, Ledley, Zaha, Bolasie, Chamakh (Puncheon 76), Campbell. Subs: Hennessey, Mariappa, Bannan, McArthur, Doyle.
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Reveillere, Vergini, O'Shea, van Aanholt (Brown 37), Cattermole, Gomez, Buckley (Bridcutt 82), Larsson, Wickham (Altidore 78), Fletcher. Subs: Mannone, Mavrias, Johnson, Graham.