Sunderland 1-1 Norwich
Ten-man Norwich City earned a deserved point at fellow Premier League strugglers Sunderland in a controversial game.
City led when Wes Hoolahan nodded in from a yard after Kei Kamara's header.
But the lacklustre hosts were gifted a way back into the game when Canaries goalkeeper Mark Bunn handled outside his box and was sent off on 30 minutes.
Craig Gardner soon levelled from the penalty spot after another disputed handball but Norwich held on with ease.
Visiting manager Chris Hughton will have been far happier with both the performance and a result which moves his side 10 points clear of the relegation zone prior to Wigan's game against Newcastle.
The Canaries were the better side for long periods, and managed to pose the greater threat going forward. They remained compact and disciplined, despite playing for more than an hour with 10 men.
But Hughton's pleasure will have been tempered by the two first-half handballs and a third close call which saw his side denied a possible spot-kick of their own after the break when Danny Rose handled on the edge of the box.
Sunderland, who edge seven points clear of the bottom three after a seventh successive game without a win, looked short of confidence and barely threatened after the interval until Stephane Sessegnon wasted a good chance in the final five minutes.
And the fact they looked so lifeless in attack and lacking in ideas and guile against 10 men is a major concern as they head into a difficult survival run-in. They face Manchester United, Chelsea, Newcastle and Everton in the next five weeks.
Sunderland were given every chance of addressing their miserable run when Michael Turner's defensive aberration led to Bunn's red card.
Up until then Norwich were the better side. They looked solid and organised and were largely untroubled defensively during an uninspiring opening half-hour which silenced the home crowd.
A nervy Sunderland's only sight of goal saw Steven Fletcher's shot smothered by Bunn.
That chance apart, Norwich had posed the greater threat and, after a sustained spell of pressure, they took the lead courtesy of a well-worked corner when Hoolahan headed in Kamara's goalbound header from less than a yard.
But within four minutes Hoolahan's afternoon was over.
Former Sunderland centre-half Michael Turner tried to head the ball back to Bunn who came charging out of his area to clear his lines but could only block an awkward bouncing ball with his arms and was duly sent off.
Craig Gardner went agonisingly close to equalising from the free-kick but his effort beat both replacement goalkeeper Lee Camp, who came on for Hoolahan, and the post.
Norwich were furious and momentarily lost their composure, and a second handball call allowed the hosts to level from the penalty spot.
This time it was the other Norwich centre-half Sebastien Bassong who was the culprit, stretching his left arm out towards another difficult bouncing ball.
Norwich felt Fletcher was offside in the build-up but referee Chris Foy awarded the spot-kick after consulting his assistant linesman Peter Banks and Gardner smashed home the penalty high to Camp's right to make it 1-1.
The game settled after a frenetic end to the first period but Sunderland's expected second-half onslaught never materialised.
Gardner saw another fizzing effort brushed over the bar by Camp soon after the restart and Sessegnon miscued a volley when well placed late on.
In between Norwich remained the more cohesive side and defended superbly and could easily have taken all three points. As well as the penalty shout when Rose's handball only resulted in a free-kick, substitute Grant Holt wasted a great one-on-one opportunity when he took a heavy touch.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill:
"We had an opportunity to go and try to get three points. They were down to 10 men, we got back into the game and had the whole second half to force the winner and couldn't. It was a disappointing second half.
"My main concern was the chances. We should have created a lot more chances and were unable to do that.
"It's difficult - it's been difficult all season for us. But we have games still to play, tough matches, every one of them. But the whole league has been tough for us.
"They are all difficult games. This is the league. You play everybody twice, this is the run of games.
"But we had a situation around about Christmas-time when people were showing the fixture list then, and we were able to win back-to-back games against Southampton and Manchester City, so we have to go and do that again.
"My concern, obviously, is the players going away on international duty. I won't see them for some time and I'm hoping they come back in one piece."
Norwich manager Chris Hughton:
"Everybody will speak about three big decisions, but I owe it to this group of lads to praise the quality of the performance.
"Yes, they had a lot of shots from outside the box, a lot of crosses we had to deal with and well, but I can't praise my players highly enough, to be down to 10 men for as long as we were.
"I thought in normal play we had probably the best chance of the game when Grant Holt was through - if his touch was a little bit softer, he was on for a one v one.
"But I can't remember a clear chance that Sunderland had, so I think we have got to give credit to a group of lads who were desperate to get something out of this game.
"The lad has come from an offside position [for Sunderland's penalty] - and that is the same linesman who gave the penalty decision. He has not given an offside and he has given a handball."
- 22 Mignolet
- 16 O'Shea
- 24 Cuellar (Bramble - 71' )
- 03 Rose
- 07 Larsson Booked
- 08 Gardner
- 15 Vaughan
- 21 Johnson (Wickham - 84' )
- 28 Sessegnon
- 09 Graham (McClean - 75' )
- 26 Fletcher
- 20 Westwood
- 02 Bardsley
- 19 Bramble
- 04 N'Diaye
- 14 Colback
- 23 McClean
- 10 Wickham
- 28 Bunn Dismissed
- 02 R Martin
- 05 Bassong
- 06 Turner
- 18 Garrido
- 04 Johnson
- 07 Snodgrass Booked (Whittaker - 88' )
- 08 Howson
- 14 Hoolahan (Camp - 31' Booked )
- 17 E Bennett
- 16 Kamara (Holt - 64' Booked )
- 42 Camp
- 03 Whittaker
- 24 R Bennett
- 15 Fox
- 09 Holt
- 10 Jackson
- 19 Becchio
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.90:00 +3:02
Michael Turner gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Connor Wickham. A cross is delivered by Sebastian Larsson, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by John O'Shea misses to the right of the target.90:00 +1:36 Booking
Booking Lee Camp goes into the referee's book.88:51
Direct free kick taken by Russell Martin.88:51 Booking
Booking Booking for Sebastian Larsson.88:46
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Howson by Sebastian Larsson.87:21
Danny Rose takes the free kick.87:21 Substitution
Substitution Steven Whittaker is brought on as a substitute for Robert Snodgrass.87:21
Russell Martin concedes a free kick for a foul on James McClean.86:26
Stephane Sessegnon has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.85:10
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Howson by Steven Fletcher. Javier Garrido takes the direct free kick.83:20 Substitution
Substitution Connor Wickham joins the action as a substitute, replacing Adam Johnson.80:29
The official flags Adam Johnson offside. Lee Camp takes the free kick.78:55
Short corner taken by Sebastian Larsson. Adam Johnson takes a shot. Blocked by Robert Snodgrass. Sebastian Larsson takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Jonathan Howson makes a clearance.78:06
Bradley Johnson fouled by Steven Fletcher, the ref awards a free kick. Javier Garrido restarts play with the free kick.76:47
Free kick awarded for a foul by David Vaughan on Robert Snodgrass. Strike on goal comes in from Elliott Bennett from the free kick.75:01
Foul by John O'Shea on Grant Holt, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed left-footed by Robert Snodgrass from right channel, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Titus Bramble by Michael Turner. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.73:57 Substitution
Substitution Danny Graham leaves the field to be replaced by James McClean.73:57
Centre by Adam Johnson.71:46
Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.
Booking Grant Holt is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.71:42
Free kick awarded for a foul by Grant Holt on Simon Mignolet.70:35
Jonathan Howson produces a right-footed shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.68:34
Free kick crossed by Sebastian Larsson, clearance made by Danny Rose.68:34 Substitution
Substitution Titus Bramble on for Carlos Cuellar.68:34
The ball is sent over by Russell Martin, blocked by Danny Rose. Danny Rose handles the ball and concedes a free kick.67:28
Robert Snodgrass takes the inswinging corner, Simon Mignolet makes a save.65:42
Grant Holt challenges Danny Rose unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.63:53 Substitution
Substitution Kei Kamara leaves the field to be replaced by Grant Holt.60:53
Adam Johnson takes a shot. Save by Lee Camp.58:53
Adam Johnson delivers the ball.58:05
Shot by Craig Gardner. Lee Camp makes a save. Corner from the right by-line taken by Adam Johnson, Jonathan Howson makes a clearance.57:13
Inswinging corner taken by Robert Snodgrass from the right by-line, Craig Gardner makes a clearance.56:29
Free kick awarded for a foul by Sebastian Larsson on Bradley Johnson. Direct free kick taken by Lee Camp.55:41
Free kick awarded for a foul by Sebastian Larsson on Kei Kamara. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Robert Snodgrass from right channel, John O'Shea makes a clearance.54:44
Free kick awarded for a foul by David Vaughan on Jonathan Howson. Direct free kick taken by Lee Camp.53:56
Elliott Bennett has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses left.53:02
Craig Gardner takes a shot. Sebastien Bassong gets a block in. Craig Gardner takes a shot. Save made by Lee Camp.52:50
The ball is swung over by Adam Johnson, clearance made by Sebastien Bassong.50:24
Craig Gardner delivers the ball, Russell Martin makes a clearance.46:31
Stephane Sessegnon gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Javier Garrido. Lee Camp takes the free kick.45:01
The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.45:00 +3:30 Half time
Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.45:00 +3:08
Effort from outside the area by Danny Rose strikes the post.44:40
The ball is crossed by Elliott Bennett, clearance made by John O'Shea.41:17
Shot by Sebastian Larsson. Save by Lee Camp. Shot from close range by Danny Graham misses to the right of the goal.39:06
John O'Shea provided the assist for the goal.39:06 Goal scored
Goal! - Craig Gardner - Sunderland 1 - 1 Norwich Craig Gardner scores a power penalty. Sunderland 1-1 Norwich.38:19 Booking
Booking The referee shows Robert Snodgrass a yellow card for dissent.37:44
Sebastien Bassong handles the ball and concedes a .37:10
Danny Rose delivers the ball, Robert Snodgrass manages to make a clearance.36:58
The ball is crossed by Danny Rose, Michael Turner manages to make a clearance.36:44
Craig Gardner crosses the ball, Sebastien Bassong makes a clearance.35:10
Robert Snodgrass takes the inswinging corner, Simon Mignolet makes a save. Shot from just outside the box by Elliott Bennett goes over the bar.33:05
Stephane Sessegnon fouled by Robert Snodgrass, the ref awards a free kick. Craig Gardner takes the direct free kick.29:08
Craig Gardner shoots direct from the free kick.29:08 Substitution
Substitution (Norwich) makes a substitution, with Lee Camp coming on for Wesley Hoolahan.29:08 Dismissal
Dismissal Mark Bunn is shown a red card.29:05
Mark Bunn is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick.28:20
Shot from just outside the box by Danny Rose goes over the crossbar.27:30
David Vaughan fouled by Jonathan Howson, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.26:45
Sebastien Bassong concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Fletcher. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from right channel, Kei Kamara makes a clearance.25:07
Assist on the goal came from Kei Kamara.25:07 Goal scored
Goal! - Wesley Hoolahan - Sunderland 0 - 1 Norwich Wesley Hoolahan finds the back of the net with a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Sunderland 0-1 Norwich.24:36
Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Robert Snodgrass, Kei Kamara takes a shot.23:57
Corner taken by Robert Snodgrass, clearance made by Steven Fletcher.23:05
Robert Snodgrass takes the inswinging corner, save made by Simon Mignolet.21:23
Stephane Sessegnon has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.19:41
Kei Kamara is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.18:08
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Robert Snodgrass played to the near post, clearance by John O'Shea.16:19
Stephane Sessegnon is caught offside. Mark Bunn restarts play with the free kick.14:16
Javier Garrido concedes a free kick for a foul on Danny Graham. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Adam Johnson from right wing, Sebastien Bassong manages to make a clearance. Corner taken left-footed by Adam Johnson, John O'Shea produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the crossbar.12:11
David Vaughan challenges Jonathan Howson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Michael Turner takes the free kick.11:22
Danny Graham is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Mark Bunn.8:12
Stephane Sessegnon fouled by Michael Turner, the ref awards a free kick. Shot on goal comes in from Sebastian Larsson from the free kick.5:23
Danny Graham takes a shot. Mark Bunn makes a save.4:49
Bradley Johnson challenges Stephane Sessegnon unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Craig Gardner.4:05
Unfair challenge on Robert Snodgrass by Sebastian Larsson results in a free kick. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Javier Garrido, Danny Rose manages to make a clearance.3:22
Corner taken by Robert Snodgrass.3:04
Sebastien Bassong takes a shot. Blocked by Craig Gardner.2:39
Short corner taken by Robert Snodgrass.0:45
Adam Johnson takes the inswinging corner, save made by Mark Bunn.0:24
The offside flag is raised against Kei Kamara. Indirect free kick taken by John O'Shea.0:00
The match has kicked off.
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