Bad day for Sunderland’s Irish at Crystal Palace

‘Leader’ John O’Shea sent off as Keiren Westwood concedes three at Selhurst Park

John O’Shea of Sunderland and Ireland is shown the red card by referee Lee Probert during the Barclays Premier League defeat to  Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Photograph:  Warren Little/Getty Images

John O’Shea of Sunderland and Ireland is shown the red card by referee Lee Probert during the Barclays Premier League defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 23:10

Crystal Palace 3 Sunderland 1: It was a day to forget for Sunderland’s Irish duo of John O’Shea and Keiren Westwood, as the former was sent off and the latter conceded three against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Paolo Di Canio’s “leader” O’Shea was dismissed 11 minutes from time for taking down Palace striker Dwight Gayle in the box. The €7 million signing from Peterborough then fired home a penalty that Westwood could well have saved.

The goalkeeper was arguably culpable for the first when he failed to gather the corner that led to Danny Gabbidon’s scruffy ninth-minute opener.

Steven Fletcher looked to have got Sunderland back into the game after coming off the bench on his return from injury to head the equaliser in the 64th minute, but O’Shea’s intervention allowed the home side back into it and Stuart O’Keefe curled home a sumptuous strike off the underside of the crossbar to wrap up the points.

Both O’Shea and Westwood are due to link up with the Republic of Ireland squad on Sunday. Both will be keen to get this result out of their system with World Cup qualifying results against Sweden and Austria, on Friday and Tuesday week, respectively.

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio said afterwards he could not get angry with his team Palace because they were simply too poor. The Black Cats have taken just one point from their opening three now and only briefly looked capable of leaving Selhurst Park with a positive result.

“Today it was difficult to be angry,” he said. “Normally I can tell you I’m very angry, but today it was difficult — it was too poor that it was really difficult to say something.

“I don’t think that even the most arrogant player in the world could argue if you said the first two goals were absolute rubbish. My leader (O’Shea) was already in the dressing room and said sorry to everybody — how can you be angry?

“They are intelligent and understand when they do something bad. I couldn’t be angry but obviously I was really sad.”

The Italian felt his side were in the game after Fletcher had headed the visitors level just after the hour, and reasoned the penalty and resulting red card turned the game in Palace’s favour.

“We were on top after we drew level,” Di Canio added. “The second goal was very poor. It came from nothing. My leader let the ball get away behind him and then tried to tackle the opponent and it cost us — the goal and the red card. They took advantage from our mistake and they put everything on the field. They never gave up but to be honest their goals were very poor.”

Palace manager Ian Holloway said he was pleased rather than relieved the Eagles had picked up their first league points of the season. There had been suggestions he was close to losing his job after defeats against Tottenham and Stoke but he was delighted to see his side pick up what could prove to be a vital win.

“That is not the word I would like to use,” he said when asked if he was relieved to break Palace’s points duck. “All you can do is work on your performances. They scored and we didn’t wobble - we had a little spell when they put Fletcher on but that was a commanding performance. I was so pleased, it is not relieved.

“I was very, very pleased with the determination, the work rate and the performance, some of that passing was nice to watch.”