A disastrous first half for Crystal Palace which saw them going into the break incredibly trailing by four goals ensured that Sunderland cruised to victory in this basement battle.
After an early setback when Lamine Kone scored after nine minutes, three goals in the final six minutes of the first 45 stunned all inside Selhurst Park as Didier Ndong netted from range before two predatory strikes by Jermain Defoe put the game to bed with a full half of football to be played.
Sam Allardyce's players showed a bit more fight in the second half but couldn't find the merest of consolations, as the Black Cats clinched a big win at the bottom of the table.
The first half began in ominous fashion when Jack Rodwell’s pass behind the Eagles’ defence allowed Jermain Defoe to advance goalwards, and despite the efforts of Joel Ward to slow his progress, he fired for the top corner and Wayne Hennessey had to make a good stop.
However on nine minutes the visitors took the lead in controversial fashion. Sebastian Larsson curled a free-kick into the box where Lamine Kone saw a header loop up into air, but as Hennessey jumped to claim the ball, Billy Jones tangled with the Welshman and saw him nudge the ball back to Kone who instinctively fired home.
Palace responded well though and should have equalised on 21 minutes when a Yohan Cabaye free-kick was sent into the box and came out to Patrick van Aanholt who played in Damien Delaney, and the Irishman sent a good delivery to the back post where James Tomkins was waiting to head the ball into the net, but somehow he miscued his effort and it flashed wide.
The Eagles suffered another blow when Yohan Cabaye limped off shortly after, but despite probing away and looking the more likely to score, the hosts suffered a sucker-punch on 42 minutes when Ndong picked the ball up in midfield and was allowed to bring the ball forward 10 yards before taking aim, and saw a shot from 25 yards clip the inside of the post and nestle into the net to register his first Black Cats goal.
Being two behind at half-time flattered Sunderland, but a crazy period in the game ensued which would see things get much, much worse. Just as three minutes of injury-time was shown, David Moyes’ side scored their third of the game with just their third effort of the game when Adnan Januzaj sprang a counter-attack and found Defoe, and he produced a clinical finish that found the bottom corner from a tight angle.
And just when the home fans thought that it couldn’t get a worse, a third goal in just six minutes went in to virtually make the second half redundant. Once again, a simple ball split the defensive line, and Defoe held it up before turning past Tomkins and finding the net for the second time in just two minutes and incredibly make it 4-0 at half-time – the first time that Palace had conceded four goals in the first half of a Premier League game.
Allardyce sent his players out early for the second half and they showed a little more attacking threat when played resumed with James McArthur dragging a shot wide before Christian Benteke saw a bicycle kick fly into the Holmesdale End, but Januzaj went a whisker away from adding a fifth when he found himself in space 30 yards out and blasted just wide of the far post.
Tame efforts by Wilfried Zaha and Loic Remy were then easily collected by Vito Mannone before Benteke steered a near-post attempt wide of the mark, but Palace’s day went from bad to worse when Scott Dann was forced off the field injured with a few minutes remaining after all the substitutions has been made, leaving the Eagle with 10 men, and when Jason Puncheon looked as though he had rifled a shot into the bottom corner, Jason Denayer’s sliced clearance off the line somehow cleared the crossbar.
The miserable afternoon was summed up when in injury-time, Mannone pushed away blasts from Andros Townsend and Benteke, and then when the rebound came to the Belgium he screwed it wide.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Tomkins, Dann, Delaney (Townsend 46), van Aanholt, Puncheon, Cabaye (Ledley 25), Zaha, McArthur (Remy 61), C. Benteke. Subs not used: Speroni, Fryers, Sakho, Flamini.
Sunderland: Mannone, Kone, O’Shea (Lescott 57), Denayer, Jones, Ndong, Larsson, Rodwell (Gibson 52), Oviedo, Januzaj (Pienaar 77), Defoe. Subs not used: Mika, Manquillo, Khazri, Borini.