Norwich City's Steven Whittaker (R) challenges Sunderland's
Sebastian Larsson during their Premier League match at
Carrow Road in Norwich. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Norwich City have extended their unbeaten run in the
Premier League to eight games with a gritty 2-1 home victory
over struggling Sunderland at Carrow Road.
Defender Sebastien Bassong stretched out a leg to poke
Norwich into an eighth-minute lead and Anthony Pilkington
made it 2-0 after 37 minutes, calmly cutting in from the left
and burying a shot low into the corner.
Sunderland halved the deficit when Craig Gardner's shot flew
into the bottom corner of Mark Bunn's goal a minute before
halftime and the strike transformed the match.
Norwich were forced to hang on for long periods in the second
period as Sunderland piled on the pressure.
Craig Gardner struck the base of the post with a free-kick
and Matt Kilgallon somehow failed to turn in the rebound,
scooping his effort over the bar.
Danny Rose forced Bunn into a sharp save and Connor Wickham
thought he had equalised with 15 minutes to go after Bunn
spilled Rose's powerful volley to his feet but his
celebrations were curtailed by an offside flag.
Norwich had several other escapes but showed great defensive
resolve to protect the three points and move up a place to
12th in the table on 19 points, the same as Liverpool.
"We had to dig deep but that was out third game in a week
with the same players so I'm delighted," Norwich manager
Chris Hughton told Sky Sports.
Defeat left Sunderland just one place and one point above the
relegation zone after a worrying slide in form in which they
have won just two of their last 22 league matches dating back
to last season.
"If we show the same spirit that we showed in the second half
for the rest of the season we'll be fine but if we show the
tension we showed in the first half it could be a tough
battle," Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill said.