Crystal Palace 1 Sunderland 0

Last updated : 22 December 2006 By Footymad Previewer
A Mark Hudson goal four minutes before the break gave Peter Taylor's Eagles a thankful three points as Sunderland's unbeaten run ended at Selhurst Park.

On an evening where dense fog affected most of the country, referee Mr Probert passed the conditions as fit.

But the fog kept coming and going and it came as a relief to Palace that it held out as did their defence. Sunderland will think that they should have won this game as Palace once again did not play particularly well.

Dean Whitehead and Grant Leadbitter had useful early chances and Palace defender Darren Ward made a crucial tackle with David Connolly set to score from just a few yards out.

Palace's first shot came on 39 minutes from Mark Kennedy - his right-foot effort looked set for the bottom right-hand corner before Sunderland keeper Darren Ward made a splendid diving save.

That brief moment of activity in the Sunderland penalty area must have inspired Palace that little bit further as, within two minutes, Hudson fired the Eagles in front.

Kennedy's long free-kick was met by Shefki Kuqi at the far post who headed back for the Palace centre-half to rifle a low right-foot shot from 14 yards into the corner of the net.

Sunderland shaded the first half and, as one would have expected, pinned Palace back for long spells in the second period.

Argentinian keeper Julian Speroni made a couple of excellent saves to deny Whitehead and Leadbitter but the real Christmas cracker came from substitute Ross Wallace.

Immediately after coming on 15 minutes after the break he laid on a stream of crosses and his speed down the left really caused Palace problems but Taylor's side defended well to protect their goal.

In a rare Palace attack substitute Dougie Freedman was unlucky not to win a penalty. After being put clean through he was pushed over as he was about to shoot. The referee said no but Palace held out for the remaining five minutes for the three points they hardly deserved.