DeAndre Yedlin gives finest Sunderland display in draw vs. Palace
Sunderland climbed unconvincingly out of the bottom three of the Premier League on Tuesday when an extraordinary late strike from Fabio Borini saved a point in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
Borini, arriving as a late substitute with Sunderland facing defeat, took a pass from the home side's most impressive player, U.S. full-back DeAndre Yedlin, and unleashed a powerful low strike across the penalty area.
Whatever Borini intended, cross or shot, it was enough to deny Palace the win that an urgent second-half display probably merited. Sunderland had led at half-time, Dame N'Doye's long-range shot taking a big deflection off Scott Dann to wrongfoot Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey.
But Palace, already threatening, moved into a higher gear after the interval. Sunderland, meanwhile, continued to create few openings of their own and the lead began to look increasingly fragile.
Almost inevitably, as anxiety degenerated into all-round incompetence, Sunderland's former striker Connor Wickham scored twice, as he had done in Palace's 3-2 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. Home fans were left to rue Wickham's time on Wearside, when even one goal in a match was a rarity.
Norwich City's 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea kept hopes alive that Sunderland can still stave off the drop zone for now, but with Newcastle United having two games in hand, starting at Stoke City on Wednesday, manager Sam Allardyce's side could easily be back in the relegation spots by the time they face a tough task at Southampton -- 8-0 winners of the corresponding fixture last season -- on Saturday.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Vito Mannone, 6 -- Not always convincing in the goalmouth but it would be harsh to blame him for Connor Wickham's well-struck goals. His first-half save from Scott Dann's header was tremendous.
DF DeAndre Yedlin, 7 -- This may have been the best display in Sunderland colours for the on-loan Spurs defender. He had a key role in both Sunderland goals, moved forward well and defended dutifully, if occasionally let down by poor final balls.
DF John O'Shea, 6 -- Looked solid until forced off with injury midway through the first half.
DF Lamine Kone, 6 -- Mostly sound but shared collective responsibility for the space Wickham found for his goals.
DF Patrick van Aanholt, 6 -- Defended better, but attacked less threateningly than usual.
MF Jack Rodwell, 6 -- Busy and generally effective in the first half but faded with the rest of the home side after the interval.
MF Jan Kirchhoff, 6 -- A mixture of elegance and wastefulness, with too many misplaced passes and losses of possession.
MF Yann M'Vila, 5 -- A surprisingly lacklustre display from a man who has consistently been Sunderland's best midfielder. Palace seemed able to exploit each mistake to mount menacing counter-attacks.
MF Dame N'Doye, 6 -- Whatever the Dubious Goals Panel makes of his deflected shot for Sunderland's opening goal, his strike produced a lead the team should have been able to defend. He did little else of note.
MF Wahbi Khazri, 6 -- Worryingly anonymous except with a handful of promising touches and a decent free kick that might have doubled Sunderland's lead just before half-time.
FW Jermain Defoe, 6 -- Could have done better with a couple of half-chances but his best work was in providing for others, the slick layoff for N'Doye's goal the mark of a top striker who also has the intelligence to know when others are better placed.
DF Younes Kaboul, 6 -- Generally slotted well into O'Shea's role after coming on in the 27th minute, but did not cover himself in glory when collective defensive failings allowed Wickham his two goals.
MF Lee Cattermole 5, -- Replaced the ultimately disappointing Kirchhoff in the 64th minute but had little chance to shine before injury saw him substituted, too.
FW Fabio Borini. NR -- Arrived late but saved the game in stoppage time. All seemed lost until his wonderful shot -- if it was intended as one rather than a powerful low cross -- levelled the scores.
Colin is ESPN FC's Sunderland blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @salutsunderland