Sunderland 1 Norwich 1

Published:
by Stuart Vose

Spoils shared on Wearside.

Sunderland and Norwich shared the spoils as ten-man City held out for a point on Wearside.

The visitors took the lead through Wes Hoolahan shortly before goalkeeper Mark Bunn was sent off for deliberate handball outside his penalty area.

Sunderland equalised five minutes before the break – Craig Gardner slotting home from the penalty spot following another handball, this time by defender Sebastien Bassong.

Danny Graham came close to giving Sunderland the lead just before the interval, but the second half was a tightly-contested affair as Norwich defended well to claim a point.

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill made three changes to the team which lost at QPR, bringing in Danny Rose, Carlos Cuellar and David Vaughan.

The reshaped side started well and almost went ahead after just six minutes.

Danny Graham nodded down Gardner's cross and then saw the ball roll back to him six yards out, but Norwich keeper Bunn dropped down to make a brave save under pressure.

The hosts were knocking the ball around well and they came close again on the quarter-hour when captain John O'Shea headed Adam Johnson's deep corner wide at the far post.

But instead it was Norwich who took the lead 26 minutes in when a corner was headed down by Kei Kamara for an unattended Hoolahan to nod in from a yard out.

Just four minutes later, though, there was more drama. A weak back header from Michael Turner was chased down by Graham, and as Bunn raced from goal to intercept the ball struck him on the arm to deny the striker a scoring opportunity.

Referee Chris Foy produced the red card - much to Bunn's chagrin - with Norwich withdrawing goalscorer Hoolahan for back-up keeper Lee Camp.

Sunderland sensed a seismic change in momentum but needed to level quickly, a goal they achieved with five minutes remaining in the first half.

A cross into the box was handled by Bassong and Gardner, facing a pressure situation, kept his cool to fire the ball emphatically into the top corner from the penalty spot.

It was the midfielder's eighth goal of the season and his fourth in succession via a spot-kick.

Having righted the ship, Sunderland pushed on and could have been ahead before half time when Seb Larsson's shot was parried out by Camp into the path of Graham, who mishit the rebound across goal and wide.

And Rose clanged a shot off the foot of the post from 20 yards with the final kick of the first period, though the diving Camp looked to have the shot covered.

Norwich had an opportunity to reorganise at the break and were stubborn defensively right from the start of the second period, though Camp had to be sharp to turn over a well-struck effort from Gardner before also denying a snapshot from Johnson.

The visitors felt they should have had a penalty with 21 minutes to go when Rose was penalised for handling a cross, with the officials opting to award a free-kick almost on the line on the right-hand edge of the area.

It was a frustrating fight for the hosts, with Norwich digging deep and pushing forward on the counter at every opportunity.

It was one of those incursions which almost led to a goal on 73 minutes as sub Grant Holt got the better of Titus Bramble to race clear, but the striker overran the ball and Simon Mignolet raced from goal to intercept.

It was a brave save from Mignolet, with the referee producing a yellow card after judging Holt’s challenge to be overly forceful.

Stephane Sessegnon scythed a snapshot wide with time running out, while Norwich also threatened late on as a cross from sub Steven Whittaker flashed across the face of goal with Holt unable to advance in time.

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Team Sheet

Mignolet
22
Cuéllar (Bramble)
24
Gardner
8
O'Shea
16
Rose
3
Vaughan
15
Johnson (Wickham)
21
Yellow Larsson
7
Sessegnon
28
Fletcher
26
Graham (McClean)
9
Bunn Red
28
Bassong
5
Garrido
18
Martin
2
Turner
6
Johnson
4
Hoolahan (Camp)
14
Snodgrass (Whittaker) Yellow
7
Bennett
17
Howson
8
Kamara (Holt)
16

Substitutes

Bardsley
2
Wickham
10
Bramble
19
N'Diaye
4
McClean
23
Westwood
20
Colback
14
Bennett
24
Holt Yellow
9
Fox
15
Whittaker
3
Becchio
19
Camp Yellow
42
Jackson
10