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Sunderland remain firmly in bottom three after day of frustration
Full-time: Sunderland 0 Crystal Palace 0
SUNDERLAND failed to give their fight for Premier League survival a timely boost at the Stadium of Light.
A lack of clear cut chances and quality football ended with Crystal Palace keeping themselves just outside of the bottom three with a hard-earned point.
Sunderland, on the other hand, should view this as another opportunity missed and they remain three points adrift of Palace, who sit nervously above the drop line.
The closest the Black Cats came to scoring was when Fabio Borini hit the post in the later stages, but Palace could easily have won it themselves. Kagisho Dikgacoi, however, shot wide when it looked easier to score in the final minute.
Sunderland were the better side for the majority of the first half, but Palace restricted them to half chances. Ki Sung-Yueng had a couple of efforts from distance fly over, while Borini's acrobatics saw a volley fly wide.
And for all Palace struggled to make any sort of progress towards Vito Mannone's goal, being goalless at the break did leave the door open for them to make Sunderland pay after the restart.
Referee Neil Swarbrick made a number of strange calls having been too quick to hand out the yellow cards early on. He did appear to get the penalty call correct when Phil Bardsley fell on the ball in the area, with his back to goal.
There were signs after the restart that Sunderland – who had introduced Jozy Altidore for the limping Steven Fletcher - could pose a greater threat going forward.
And while Speroni's save to deny a Borini header was after the offside flag went up, seconds later the Palace goalkeeper did have to make a great save to deny Altidore.
Seb Larsson's disappointing afternoon came to an end just after the hour when Craig Gardner was introduced and Sunderland were in desperate need of one of his long range drives finding the net.
As frustrations grew in the stands, the threat of a late Palace goal increased even though the only effort from Yannick Bolasie rolled comfortably in to Mannone's hands.
Borini came closest for Sunderland over the course of the 90 minutes with his drive which bounced to safety after crashing against the upright, following a lovely find from Ki.
But there was an even better chance at the other end in the dying stages. Dikgacoi somehow missed the target from eight yards after a lovely lay-off from Cameron Jerome.
Sunderland survived with a point, but it could be that they needed more than that come May.
SUNDERLAND (4-4-2): Mannone; Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Alonso; Bridcutt; Johnson (Scocco 83), Ki, Larsson (Gardner 61), Borini; Fletcher (Altidore 46). Subs: Colback, Vergini, Cattermole, Ustari (gk).
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-4-1-1): Speroni; Delaney, Mariappa, Dann, Ward; Bolasie (Puncheon 80), Digkacoi, Jedinak, Ledley; Ince (Guedioura 74); Murray (Jerome 62). Subs: Hennessey (gk), McCarthy, Thomas, Gayle.
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