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Benteke seals Palace comeback at Sunderland


Sunderland (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Christian Benteke’s stoppage time header earned Crystal Palace a stirring 3-2 comeback win at hapless Sunderland on Saturday.

The Black Cats appeared set for their first win of the Premier League season after a double from Jermain Defoe.

But goals inside the last half an hour from Joe Ledley and James McArthur put Palace back level before Benteke popped up to steal the show and earn Palace a third successive league success.

Alan Pardew’s side remained in eighth place on 10 points, with Sunderland now footing the table on one point from a possible 18.

Defoe was back for Sunderland after missing the midweek League Cup win over Queens Park Rangers with a calf strain.

Left-back Patrick van Aanholt, absent for last weekend’s league defeat to Tottenham due to the results of cardiology tests, also started.

Palace were without injured defender Scott Dann and winger Wilfried Zaha.

Sunderland boss David Moyes was forced to make an early unscripted change when Steven Pienaar suffered a hamstring injury, with the veteran South African replaced by Duncan Watmore.

The Black Cats began hesitantly, with their defence tested by Jason Puncheon and Andros Townsend.

But it was the hosts who had the first decent chance against the run of play when van Aanholt sent a low cross into the box only for Defoe’s flick to go wide.

On 39 minutes a clumsy 25 yard back pass by Palace midfielder Ledley to his keeper proved calamitous, with Defoe pouncing to poke the ball past Steve Mandanda.

As a scrappy first period drew to a close Townsend, who scored his first goal for Palace in last weekend’s 4-1 win over Stoke, sent a curling shot wide.

Ten minutes after the restart Palace went close to an equaliser, Damien Delaney clearing a Sunderland free-kick in an attack that ended with Jason Puncheon’s 15 yard shot testing keeper Jordan Pickford.

After a vibrant passage of play from the hosts Defoe bagged a second with a neatly executed 12 yard shot on the hour.

A minute later and Ledley made amends for his first half mistake, the Wales international’s low 20 yard effort taking a deflection off van Aanholt on its way past Pickford.

Pardew then replaced Martin Kelly with Zeki Fryers and the full back made an immediate and telling impact, sending in a cross from the left wing for McArthur to head in on 76 minutes.

That put an end to Moyes’ hopes of a first Premier League win since his then Manchester United won 4-0 at Newcastle in April 2014.

Moyes’ afternoon went from bad to worse as he watched Javier Manquillo give away a free-kick by the corner, with late substitute Lee Chung-Yong floating the ball over for Benteke to head past Pickford in the fourth minute of time added on.

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