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Dwight Gayle's late penalty earned Crystal Palace a 3-1 victory over 10-man Sunderland to give them their first Barclays Premier League points of the season.
The striker was brought down by John O'Shea, who was subsequently dismissed, in the 78th minute and converted from the spot for his first Palace goal.
Steven Fletcher looked to have earned Sunderland a point with a second-half header that cancelled out Danny Gabbidon's early goal. The Scotland international, who has spent the last five months on the sidelines with an ankle injury, rose to meet a Jack Colback cross and plant a measured header past Julian Speroni.
Substitute Stuart O'Keefe secured the victory with a third goal late on, taking advantage of the room in Sunderland's defence to curl sublimely in off the bar.
Palace named an unchanged side for their second home game of the season, with Paolo Di Canio making three changes to Sunderland. A hamstring injury ruled Jozy Altidore out while Stephane Sessegnon and Craig Gardner were both left out by the Italian. Connor Wickham replaced Altidore, with Ji Dong-Won and David Vaughan also coming in.
The hosts got off to a perfect start with the opening goal in just the ninth minute. Jose Campana delivered a corner into a congested penalty area, Kagisho Dikgacoi challenged for the ball at the back post and Gabbidon got the faintest of flicks to send the ball past Keiren Westwood.
Ian Holloway's side dominated much of the opening period but failed to add to their lead going into the break, with Jason Puncheon and Mile Jedinak posing a real threat to Westwood’s goal.
Fletcher made his long-awaited return from injury as a half-time replacement for Ji, and the Scot immediately gave the visitors more of a presence in attack. It took the 26-year-old 19 minutes to make an impact as he levelled with a well-taken header from Colback's cross. The striker evaded the attentions of Jedinak to head home from an unmarked position inside the penalty area – his ninth goal away from home for Sunderland.
With 12 minutes to play O'Shea gave Palace a lifeline as he brought down Gayle inside the penalty area, the Republic of Ireland international lunging for the ball but catching the striker. O'Shea was sent off by referee Lee Probert and Gayle made no mistake from the spot, his penalty squirming under Westwood for his first goal in the top flight.
O'Keefe added a third in stoppage time, the 22-year-old curling his shot past Westwood from the edge of the penalty area to cap an important win for Palace.
Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway: "It feels fantastic. I thought we showed great character and no mean skill as well. I was really pleased with the overall performance.
"I thought we gave a great account of ourselves against Tottenham the first game, they can rip people to shreds. Against Stoke in the first half we were as good as that. Second half we made a couple of mistakes and got slaughtered for it.
"The lads have come back fighting and buzzing. If you look at (Marouane) Chamakh's effort today, he proves to everybody that he wants to work for us and he's not even fit yet. I'm absolutely delighted for the boys, we thoroughly deserved it."
Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio: "That hurt me and everybody even more because when you concede the goals that we conceded today you can't be happy, and there is a job to do, because in terms of football expression we on top for long periods during the game. This is why I am not worried when I talk about footballing expression but if my players individually are going to concede goals like they did today we have to be worried.
"Probably the penalty was a penalty, I don't know, I didn't see the challenge, but anyway the fact is the penalty came from a not dangerous situation, it just rebounded from a challenge on the touchline and the ball finished behind my leader but he didn't react how he should and that is terrible because this game was crucial for us.
"It can't determine the outcome of our season but if we don't start thinking that every challenge can be crucial for the destiny of our match that can be a problem because it can't be possible; after our goal we were on top, we played well, we had two or three situations where we should do better and then to concede goals the way we did is absolutely poor.
"My eyes were open 45 days ago and now maybe everybody can understand even more why I have asked for a few players in some areas of the field but anyway in terms of performance we did well in general, we were on top for the most part of the game but three very pathetic goals that we conceded didn't give us the chance to fly back to Sunderland with points."
|14 Sep 2013||v Man Utd (A)|
|22 Sep 2013||v Swansea (H)|
|28 Sep 2013||v Southampton (A)|
|05 Oct 2013||v Liverpool (A)|
|21 Oct 2013||v Fulham (H)|
|26 Oct 2013||v Arsenal (H)|