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Sunderland dropped to the bottom of the Premier League when they lost 2-0 to West Brom at the Hawthorns following Swansea's win at Liverpool. Darren Fletcher put West Brom ahead with a volley on the half-hour mark and six minutes later Chris Brunt lashed home from 20 yards to double the home side's lead. Sunderland, who started the game in 20th place after Swansea leapfrogged them with a 3-2 victory at Anfield, struggled to create clear opportunities against a solid and confident West Brom side. Their fourth defeat in five league games leaves them on 15 points, three points from safety.

Tony Pulis' men stay in eighth after their third league victory in four games. The Baggies dominated the first-half and deserved their lead when captain Fletcher struck with a goal of high technical merit. Sunderland failed to clear a corner and the ball was nodded on by Gareth McAuley to Fletcher, who controlled it on his chest before volleying past Vito Mannone on the turn. Brunt's volley soon after might even have been better, and gave the home side a cushion they never looked like relinquishing.

The impressive Matt Phillips escaped down the right and his cross was palmed into the path of Nacer Chadli by Mannone, and although the Belgium winger hit the crossbar from close range, the rebound landed at the feet of Brunt, who arrowed home with a pure strike. The Baggies' new £10m signing Jake Livermore made his debut, coming on for the last 20 minutes. Sunderland managed just two shots in the first-half, only one of which was on target, a weak attempt by their top scorer Jermain Defoe in the 41st minute. Defoe, 34, has scored 12 of their 20 Premier League goals this season, but the former England striker struggled to make an impact.

He managed just two touches in the West Brom box in the first-half, while as a team Sunderland only had seven touches in Foster's area. Things did improve after the break with sevens shots and two on target - but with six of them from outside the box, West Brom rarely looked in much danger. Sunderland's best opportunities to fight back came from set pieces and corners but too often the delivery was poor, with Sebastian Larsson and Patrick van Aanholt particularly culpable. Victor Anichebe gave his side a boost when he came off the bench for the last half hour as he returned from injury, but it looked as if Sunderland would be wise to strengthen their attack in the January window if they are to have a chance of survival.

21 January, 2017  tobi   Sport News |

Seamus Coleman's late strike secured win against Palace

Crystal Palace remain without a Premier League victory under Sam Allardyce as Seamus Coleman's late strike secured all three points for Everton at Selhurst Park. Palace kicked off inside the relegation zone after Swansea's shock win over Liverpool, but they nevertheless lacked urgency and failed to carve out a shot on target until the 79th minute. It seemed they had done enough to earn a point but caved to late pressure as Tom Davies' through-ball found Coleman who advanced before firing a rising shot beyond Wayne Hennessey.

Palace might be aggrieved at the goal, as Jeff Schlupp was down injured at the time and referee Anthony Taylor allowed play to continue, although it appeared as though the winger initially went down while on the sidelines before moving back on to the pitch. Romelu Lukaku also hit the post for Everton and Hennessy saved well from Kevin Mirallas and Ramiro Funes Mori, while the closest Palace came to scoring was from Christian Benteke's header off the bar in the first half. Palace are now winless in five league matches under Allardyce, while victory for resurgent Everton means they have collected 13 points from the last 15 available to move to within five points of sixth-placed Manchester United. Everton have now won their opening three league matches in a calendar year for the first time since 2008 and were good value for this latest maximum haul, racking up 16 shots on goal. But the win might easily have been denied them had the officials taken a different view of two key incidents in the build-up to the goal, first over whether play should have been stopped to allow Schlupp to receive treatment, and then over a close offside call.

Schlupp went down injured after a being crowded out inside the Everton area and was still on the turf as the visitors broke upfield. The ball eventually came to Davies who played a lovely first-time pass to Coleman just inside the 18-yard box, but replays showed the Irish full-back got the benefit of a very close offside call before slamming the ball into the net. "It was frustrating that Schlupp was injured and we couldn't get a sub on and the one player we had contained all day, Coleman, goes and scores - also it looked suspiciously offside," Allardyce said. "I feel the referee should have blown the whistle. Our player was injured and that's a decision the referee should have made. I don't think it's the responsibility of the players."

Taylor was under no obligation to stop play because of Schlupp's injury, with Fifa rules stipulating that an official is allowed to let play continue if a player is deemed to be "only slightly injured". The rule adds that play should only be stopped "if, in the opinion of the referee, a player is seriously injured". In Schlupp's case, he appeared to be struggling with cramp, while pictures of the incident appear to show him initially off the field of play before returning to the pitch when receiving treatment.

21 January, 2017  tobi   Sport News |

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