Youngsters edged out despite strong performanceNORWICH City's Under-23s bowed out of the Premier League International Cup at the semi-final stage following a harsh 1-0 defeat to Sunderland at Carrow Road on Friday evening.
The Canaries could consider themselves highly unfortunate, with Sunderland goalkeeper Max Stryjek receiving just a yellow for a deliberate handball early on ahead of later producing a string of fine saves.
That reprieve came with just seven minutes on the clock, Stryjek coming some way out of his area to catch the ball before parrying Glenn Middleton's subsequent free-kick away to safety.
Taking full advantage of surviving that scare, Sunderland then went in front on 13 minutes when Joel Asoro met a pass into the area to slot beyond City stopper Aston Oxborough.
With first half opportunities for both sides largely at a premium, the hosts were handed the chance to haul themselves level on 34 minutes when pushing in the area from a Matt Jarvis free-kick saw them awarded a penalty.
Middleton stepped up to take the spot-kick, sending a low effort firmly towards the corner only for Stryjek to be equal to it as he produced a superb stop to beat the ball away .
City came out with added purpose after the interval, with tidy play on the right from Louis Ramsay eventually seeing the ball fall to Ray Grant who arrowed a shot over the crossbar from distance.
Ebou Adams, excellent in midfield, also threatened; breaking into the box to meet Matt Jarvis' cross only to head straight at Stryjek.
Jarvis himself then went close, firing a low drive at goal which Stryjek tipped behind at full-stretch before keeping out a fierce strike from Middleton moments later.
Matt Gill's side continued to push forward in pursuit of a leveller into the final ten minutes, leaving gaps at the back on occasion which Lynden Gooch went closest to exploiting.
As the game moved into stoppage-time, Ben Godfrey climbed well to head at goal; his effort striking the woodwork to emphasise how it wasn't set to be City's night.
The home side maintained the pressure at full-throttle until the final whistle, but were ultimately left cruelly beaten to bring an end to what was still an excellent campaign in the continental competition.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 0-1 Sunderland
GOALS: Black Cats: Joel Asoro (13).
NORWICH CITY: Oxborough; Ramsay, Godfrey (c), Efete, Dijks; Grant (Jaiyesimi, 74), Mulumbu (McGrandles, 59), Adams; Jarvis, Ashley-Seal, Middleton. Subs not used: Hallett (GK), Aransibia, Crowe, Aarons, Odusina.