Norwich extend unbeaten Premier League run
NORWICH, England (AFP) — Norwich City extended their unbeaten run to eight Premier League games with a 2-1 win at home to Sunderland yesterday that left the visitors just a point above the relegation zone.
Goals from Sebastien Bassong and Anthony Pilkington put Norwich 2-0 up and although Craig Gardner replied before half-time, Martin O'Neill's side could not find an equaliser despite a spate of second-half opportunities.
Sunderland remain one place above the bottom three, albeit with a game in hand on most of the teams around them, while Chris Hughton's Norwich climb one place to 12th.
Beaten only once in their previous seven home games, Norwich began brightly at Carrow Road and went ahead in the eighth minute.
Robert Snodgrass' inswinging free-kick glanced off the arm of Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar and into the path of Bassong, who charged in to volley past Simon Mignolet from close range.
Sunderland threatened through Danny Rose, whose low strike from a corner forced a smart save from Mark Bunn, but in the 37th minute, the hosts doubled their lead with a neat goal.
Bradley Johnson's pass released Pilkington and he showed excellent composure to flick the ball inside Cuellar before curling a shot into the bottom-right corner.
Sunderland were floundering, but they grabbed a lifeline on the cusp of half-time when Gardner beat Bunn with a 20-yard shot from Adam Johnson's lay-off.
Pilkington stung Mignolet's palms with an ambitious volley early in the second half but Sunderland were soon pressing their hosts back in search of an equaliser.
Their best chance arrived just before the hour, with defender Matt Kilgallon spooning the ball over an open goal from 10 yards after Gardner's swerving 25-yard free-kick came back off the post.
Javier Garrido then had to hack a Gardner effort clear from just in front of the Norwich goal, while Bunn saved from Stephane Sessegnon, who also flashed an overhead kick wide.
Sunderland substitute Connor Wickham, a half-time replacement for injured top scorer Steven Fletcher, then had the ball in the net, only for his celebrations to be cut short by the assistant referee's flag.