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December 11 2023 2.39am

Late AJ goal gives Palace the edge

May 14 2004

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson

Palace have a slender lead in the play-off semi-final first leg after beating Sunderland 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at Selhurst Park.

After a goal-less, tense first half, the game sparked into life in the second period. Sunderland's Kevin Kyle had fired wide in the sixth minute, while Palace had their fair share of chances.

Michael Hughes' powerful cross was deflected out for a corner and Neil Shipperley went close. The visitors' John Oster and Gray both blazed over the bar as both sides went in at the break 0-0.

Sunderland took the lead with a penalty in the 51st minute when Tony Popovic tripped Carl Robinson in the area and Marcus Stewart put away the spot-kick.

Seconds later, Palace were on level terms as Shipperley got on the end of Danny Granville's cross and headed over Mart Poom into the back of the net.

Palace went 2-1 up on 64 minutes. Hughes' passed a quick free-kick to Butterfield and the fullback's shot took a wicked deflection off Phil Babb and past the hapless Poom.

Kyle pegged it back to 2-2 in the 85th minute, getting on the end of a free-kick into the box and netting from close-range.

Then with three minutes remaining, Johnson ran at Gary Breen and struck a low shot past Poom to give the Eagles a narrow lead as they go into the second leg at Sunderland on Monday.

Crystal Palace: Vaesen, Granville, Leigertwood, Popovic, Butterfield, Gray, Riihilahti, Hughes (Derry 83), Routledge, Johnson, Shipperley (Powell 89).

Subs not used: Freedman, Black, Berthelin.

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