Sunderland scored four first-half goals to thrash Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park as the Black Cats moved level on points with their Premier League relegation rivals.
Lamine Kone reacted quickest to Wayne Hennessey’s spill to steer in Sunderland’s opener after 10 minutes.
The visitors then scored three goals in six minutes in a stunning end to the first half as Didier Ndong struck a superb effort from 25 yards before Jermain Defoe punished lax Palace defending with two excellent finishes.
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) February 4, 2017
A fan got onto the pitch to confront Damien Delaney as the Palace players were booed off at half-time on a miserable afternoon for Sam Allardyce against his former club.
Sunderland easily controlled the second half to secure their first away Premier League win in six games and join Palace on 19 points.
But David Moyes’ side remain bottom of the table following Hull City’s 2-0 victory over Liverpool.
Three goals. Six minutes.
Despite Kone’s early goal, Palace seemed to be starting to dictate the game. But they were stunned three times in an astonishing spell going into the break.
Ndong scored a memorable first goal for Sunderland, robbing substitute Joe Ledley easily in midfield before striding forward and curling a fine strike off the inside of the right post, giving Hennessey no chance.
Palace appeared incapable of limping through to half-time without inflicting further damage on themselves as Defoe duly capitalised with two goals in two minutes.
For both goals, the hosts afforded Adnan Januzaj far too much time and space, with the on-loan Manchester United midfielder providing a deftly-weighted pass that Defoe struck into the far corner for the first. He then provided a lovely ball from deep that Defoe ran on to and easily turned James Tomkins to fire in.
At the start of the game, Defoe was the only Sunderland player in their starting line-up to score this season and while Moyes will be heartened to see two others contribute, his 34-year-old star striker gave yet another reminder why he alone will largely determine the Black Cats’ fate this season.
Defoe now has 14 Premier League goals this season out of the 24 Sunderland have scored in total as he came back to haunt the manager who he helped to keep the Black Cats up last year.
Palace could end Big Sam’s record
Prior to the game, Palace boss Allardyce said he would “hate” to see a repeat performance of the defeat by Swansea in early January.
He got something far worse. They were abject at times and provided little resistance in falling to another damaging defeat by a relegation-threatened side.
The target of the fans’ ire remains at the players and not Allardyce, with chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” accompanying a cacophony of boos and jeers.
That ill-feeling turned ugly as a fan managed to remonstrate with Delaney face-to-face at the interval before being removed, with stewards later forced to hold back groups of fans trying to get into the tunnel after the final whistle.
“I saw fear strike the players,” said Allardyce. “It was a huge shock for me what I saw. The lads find it difficult to play here at the moment.”
“It is not often the players get much stick but they deserved the booing. I have to apologise for the first half.”
Allardyce has never been relegated from the Premier League, but he could see that record end this season if his side continue to perform like this.