Crystal Palace 1
Hudson 41
Sunderland 0

Crystal Palace opened their Christmas campaign with a closely fought victory over promotion-chasing Sunderland at foggy Selhurst Park.

Roy Keane's men had the lion's share of possession in the opening stages but didn't take their chances.

Former Celtic and Manchester United midfielder Liam Miller should have scored after seven minutes but lashed his shot wide when unmarked inside the Palace box.

Sunderland continued to pile on the pressure but Peter Taylor's men sparked into life when Mark Kennedy had the Black Cat's keeper Darren Ward at full stretch in the 23rd minute following a low cross from Jobi McAnuff.

Moments later Clinton Morrison dragged his shot wide from inside the Sunderland penalty area after Shefki Kuqi had played him in.

At the other end, centre back Darren Ward denied David Connolly, stepping in to dispossess the Sunderland forward as he was about to pull the trigger.

With the mist descending, Palace snatched the lead just before the break. Danny Butterfield pumped a long ball into the packed area, Kuqi nodded down and Mark Hudson fired home with a delightful strike from 15 yards out.

Moments later Tom Soares could have made the game safe but took too long with his far-post shot.

The second half saw Sunderland push for an equaliser and they would have taken a share of the points with 10 minutes to go but for a great save from Julian Speroni.

Substitute Dwight Yorke sent in a free-kick from the left that found Stanislav Varga whose goal-bound header was tipped over.

Late substitute Dougie Freedman produced the game's finest piece of skill when he broke from midfield, and beat the last man by pushing the ball one side and then running the other only to be bundled over in the box. Referee Lee Probert waved away the penalty appeals.

Palace Star Man: Julian Speroni. It was his first home league start since December 2005 but the Argentinean instilled confidence in his defence, made some crucial saves and kept a clean sheet.Crystal Palace: Speroni 7, Ward 6, Hudson 7, Butterfield 6, Borrowdale 6, McAnuff 6, Soares 6, Fletcher 5, Kennedy 5 (Lawrence 89 5), Morrison 5(Freedman 83 6), Kuqi 5 (Scowcroft 71 5).