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23:25 26th September 2011


A PASSIONATE and committed display against Sunderland at Carrow Road was enough to earn Paul Lambert's Canaries a second consecutive 2-1 win and move them up to ninth in the early Barclays Premier League table.

Defender Leon Barnett side-footed home Elliott Bennett's cross from close range to edge the Canaries in front in the first half - and a blistering start to the second period saw Steve Morison grab his first senior goal for the Club with a powerful header after great work from Russell Martin and Marc Tierney.

City looked to have done enough to clinch a comfortable victory at 2-0 up but were rocked by a fierce low drive from Kieran Richardson which threw the Black Cats a lifeline in the dying minutes - and the sight of the unlucky James Vaughan hobbling off to reduce City to ten men as all their substitutes had been used.

But the spirited Canaries refused to buckle and hung on to claim a deserved victory in front of a crowd of 26,107 and millions watching live on TV.

Lambert said afterwards: "The lads they gave me everything, they give me everything every week.

"In the two and a bit years I've been here, the players have given me it all, and tonight the players have been a credit to this Football Club.

"I think we maybe did too much running, but the level of performance, as I've said before, was excellent. The tempo of the game was so high, and you can't do that for 90 minutes, but we'll learn.

"It's a terrific win against a really, really good side."

Lambert named an unchanged starting line-up following City's first Premier League win of the season at Bolton the previous weekend.

Sunderland enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening exchanges but it was the Canaries who hit back with some good early chances - Morison's low shot saved by Mignolet in the 3rd minute before the Black Cats custodian was caught in no man's land, only to watch gratefully as Hoolahan's attempted lob landed well over the bar three minutes later.

Play was even for the next 15 minutes or so with both sides playing with composure and passing well without seriously threatening, though Sunderland carved out the game's next half-chance on 22 minutes with a curling Gardner shot which went over.

Four minutes later Nicklas Bendtner took a ball across the edge of City's box down superbly and fired in a first-time half-volley which Ruddy dived to his right to parry to safety, the best chance of the game for either side so far.

But it was the Canaries who drew first blood, taking the lead after a neat passing move just after the half-hour. Elliott Bennett was the architect, playing a defence-splitting one-two with David Fox before sliding an inch-perfect low ball into the box for centre-back Leon Barnett to side-foot home from close range.

Norwich City 1, Sunderland 0

Nursing a slender advantage at the break City were in no mood to hand the initiative to the visitors as the second half got underway and straight away took the game to the Black Cats.

Mignolet was called into action straight away, palming away Pilkington's excellent cross from the left just one minute after the restart.

But he was powerless to stop the on-song Canaries powering into a 2-0 lead on 48 minutes. A surging run forward by Martin saw him feed the ball to Tierney and his delightful teasing cross fell to Morison to bulge the net with a bullet header from six yards which gave Mignolet no chance.

It was Morison's first senior goal for the Canaries and ensured that all seven goals scored by City in the Premier League to that point had ben scored by different players.

In the 63rd minute Sunderland were a whisker away from hauling themselves back into the game when Bendtner pounced on Johnson's miskick and shot from a tight angle but Ruddy made a fine reaction block to keep it out.

City countered at breakneck speed after Hoolahan's sublime touch sent Martin cantering into the visitors' half and when he found Bennett the winger's shot was parried by Mignolet and Martin's cross from the rebound eluded his team-mates.

Sunderland made a double substitution on 68 minutes as former Ipswich striker Connor Wickham received a warm reception from the home faithful coming on for Sessegnon and Dong-Won replaced Larsson.

Wickham was presented with a golden chance to score with his first touch, but could only direct a close-range header straight to Ruddy.

City made a double change of their own on 78 minutes, Pilkington and Morison receiving a huge ovation as they were replaced by Holt and Vaughan. They made their final change with six minutes of normal time remaining as Vaughan replaced Bennett.

But then came a double-blow which rocked the Canaries back. First Kieron Richardson blasted Sunderland back into the game with a fierce cross-shot which nestled in the far corner.

Then Vaughan pulled up and was clearly unable to continue, eventually forced to hobble off and leave City facing five minutes of injury time with ten men. However despite some nervous moments the ten men held out to claim three more Premier League points.

Norwich City 2, Sunderland 1

Ruddy, R.Martin, Johnson, Morison (Holt 78), Pilkington (Vaughan 78), Hoolahan (c), Fox, Bennett, Barnett, Tierney, Naughton. Subs not used: Rudd, Crofts, Surman, C.Martin, De Laet.
Mignolet, Brown, Larsson (Dong-Won 68), Gardner, Richardson, Vaughan, O'Shea, Bramble, Elmohamady, Sessegnon (Wickham 68), Bendtner. Subs not used: Westwood, Turner, Cattermole, Colback, McClean.

Chris Foy


    Data provided by Press Association


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