Dec 032012

Sunderland lost for the third time in five matches yesterday as Norwich triumphed 2-1 at Carrow Road in the Premier League.

Despite having twice more shots than their hosts, Sunderland only hit the target six times in the game.

It means the pressure increases on Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill as they have now lost eight away from home in the league this season and lie just one point off the bottom three currently.

The Black Cats fell behind after just eight minutes at Carrow Road to a Sebastian Bassong goal. Norwich doubled their advantage on 37 minutes through Anthony Pilkington but a Craig Gardner strike moments before half-time gave Sunderland some hope of coming away with a result.

Although they enjoyed a number of spells of possession and pressure in the second period, Sunderland were unable to breach the Norwich defence again and Norwich therefore climb to 12th in the table.

The Canaries took the lead from a free-kick on their right. Bassong forced the ball in after a flick-on at the near post deflected into his path.

Norwich bossed most of the first half and deservedly scored again, as half time beckoned. Pilkington was put through on goal by a perfectly weighted Bradley Johnson pass. He surged forwards, cut inside the defender and slotted home past Simon Mignolet to extend Norwich’s lead.

However, Gardner, who was sold by Chris Hughton at Birmingham City to Sunderland, haunted his old manager by curling a low 18-yard drive past goalkeeper Mark Bunn to give the visitors some hope. Adam Johnson teed the midfielder up for his second goal in two games.

Connor Wickham came on for the injured Stephen Fletcher at the break and helped rejuvenate Sunderland. On the hour, Matthew Kilgallon wasted Sunderland’s best chance of the game as, when Bunn kept out a terrific Gardner free-kick, the defender latched on to the rebound from yards out but could only put the sitter over the crossbar.

Martin O’Neill, as animated as ever, continued to be frustrated on the sidelines as some last-ditch Norwich defending kept his side at bay. Bunn, only playing as John Ruddy was injured, saved late strikes from Sessegnon and Rose as Norwich held on to claim their fourth win this season and maintain their unbeaten run of matches to eight league games.

The Canaries fly high to 12th in the table as a result but next face a Swansea side who have won their last two games and not lost since October 27 and even that was to Manchester City.

It is only one win in nine matches for struggling Sunderland though so their next matches, against inconsistent Chelsea and lowly Reading, will be hugely significant for O’Neill’s job and Sunderland’s top-flight status.

Written By Bradley Jolly (285)

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