Premier League - Norwich hang on to beat Sunderland

Tue, 27 Sep 10:29:00 2011

Norwich made it an unhappy return to Carrow Road for Steve Bruce by clinching a hard-fought but ultimately deserved 2-1 Premier League win over Sunderland.

Norwich 2 Sunderland 1

Leon Barnett and Steve Morison scored their first goals in the top flight and a late drive by Kieran Richardson proved insufficient for the disappointing Wearsiders, who struggled to impress.

Although the Black Cats made a positive opening, the chances started to come at Simon Mignolet's end. The Belgian keeper comfortably dealt with Morison's sighter but was grateful when Wes Hoolahan looped a shot over the bar following an error of judgement by Titus Bramble.

Nicklas Bendtner looked in the mood and the on-loan Dane did well to pick out Craig Gardner, only for the midfielder to fire a deliberate attempt to curl the ball way off target. Bendtner then took a touch to control a Stephane Sessegnon pass before working John Ruddy for the first time with an impressive snap-shot.

Both teams appeared capable of breaking the deadlock and Norwich struck just past the half-hour mark. Speedy winger Elliott Bennett played a fine one-two with David Fox and crossed invitingly for Barnett to beat Mignolet from close range.

Carrow Road was rocking and even the classy Wes Brown started to show flaws, gifting the ball to Hoolahan, whose shot deflected well wide for a corner.

Bendtner dabbed a volley off target after some intelligent work by fellow Scandinavian Sebastian Larsson as half-time approached but few would have begrudged the Canaries their half-time lead.

And Paul Lambert's side went further in front nine minutes after the interval when they had a man over down the left and Marc Tierney chipped a cross into the path of Morison, who buried a classic centre-forward's header past an exposed Mignolet.

The hosts looked comfortable until a dreadful mistake by Bradley Johnson let in Bendtner but Ruddy made an instinctive save to keep out one of Sunderland's better performers. Although substitute Connor Wickham directed a fine cross by Ahmed Elmohamady at Ruddy, City continued to create chances of their own with the lively Bennett working Mignolet and Russell Martin failing to capitalise on the rebound during a breakaway.

James Vaughan came on for Norwich and shot wide before going off injured while Bruce's side were handed a lifeline when a patient build-up ended with Richardson's sublime drive, which flew past Ruddy with the aid of the slightest of deflections off Barnett.

With City down to 10 men, the Black Cats tried to crank up the pressure but Ruddy and his defence stood firm for a valuable three points that moves the newly-promoted side into the top half ahead of their weekend assignment at Manchester United.

Sunderland simply must do better as too many of their players - Brown and Bendtner aside - will have failed to cheer the loyal travelling support.

Adam Marshall / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account