Bolasie treble puts Sunderland back in relegation trouble

AFP

Sunderland (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie pushed Sunderland back into the relegation dogfight with a hat-trick in his side's 4-1 romp at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Bolasie hadn't scored for Palace since September, but the Congo international ended that drought in spectacular fashion to hand new Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat a second defeat from his three matches in charge.

Advocaat had hoped last weekend's triumph over local rivals Newcastle would provide the spark to lift Sunderland away from the bottom three.

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But instead they remain just three points above the relegation zone after a humiliating defeat that had Sunderland supporters streaming towards the exits long before full-time.

Glenn Murray opened the floodgates when he put Palace ahead early in the second half, but it was Bolasie who stole the show with a hat-trick in the space of 11 minutes.

Connor Wickham's last minute goal was no consolation for Sunderland, and Palace's fifth win in their last six matches extended their superb run since Alan Pardew replaced Neil Warnock as manager at the turn of the year.

Steven Fletcher had a good opportunity to give Sunderland an early lead when the Scotland striker met Jordi Gomez's curling corner, but he couldn't control his header and it drifted over the crossbar.

Jason Puncheon had scored a fine free-kick in Palace's surprise win over champions Manchester City on Monday and he had the Eagles' first sight of goal with a strike well saved by Costel Pantilimon.

Sunderland midfielder Jack Rodwell was fortunate to escape a red card after clattering into James McArthur with an ugly tackle that brought him a booking and set the tone for a bruising half.

Pantilimon needed treatment after being caught by Palace defender Scott Dann in a penalty area collision, while Eagles full-back Pape Souare was forced to come off injured following his clash with Billy Jones.

After a scrappy first half, it was Palace who took the lead three minutes into the second period when Murray met Bolasie's deflected cross with a powerful header for his sixth goal in his last six games.

That was the signal for Sunderland's defence to crumble in spectacular fashion as Palace scored twice more to make it three goals in five minutes.

Bolasie was their tormentor in chief as he raced onto Murray's flick to guide a cool finish past Pantilimon in the 51st minute.

Palace were sweeping through Sunderland's creaky defence at will and Bolasie effectively ended the contest two minutes later with a deft chip into the far corner.

There was worse to come for Advocaat's shell-shocked side as Murray easily held off John O'Shea and picked out Bolasie, who jinked around Pantilimon before slotting past two Sunderland defenders on the line to make it four in the 62nd minute.

Wickham scored with a scuffed effort in the closing moments, but there were few fans left to see it and Sunderland must prepare for a nail-biting fight for survival.

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