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    Norwich City 0-3 Sunderland: The Black Cats claw back their chance of survival

    By Chris Lincoln

    Norwich City fans were left inconsolable after they blew the opportunity to virtually assure their survival ambitions with a heavy defeat to Sunderland on Saturday lunchtime. To make matters worse, fellow relegation rivals Newcastle United also sealed an important victory against Swansea later in the day, as the survival race became wide open oncemore. 

    Timm Klose lost his fight for fitness, as Sebastian Bassong returned in the only change from the Canaries' narrow defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend. Sunderland remained unchanged, although Duncan Watmore was named on the bench after recovering from an injury.

    The importance of the match was evident from as early as the third minute, when Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce jumped in after Robbie Brady launched DeAndre Yedlin into the advertising boards. The infringement sparked a pushing contest between players and coaches of both sides as tensions boiled over.

    Andre Wisdom fouls Fabio Borini for the penalty

    In a lively Carrow Road atmosphere, the hosts began the better side as Sunderland failed to string combinations of passes together. Yet it was the visitors who created the first opportunity of the game when Fabio Borini fired wide from a narrow angle on 18 minutes. That effort woke Norwich up as a deflected Younes Kaboul effort was kept out by Vito Mannone, before he plucked out a Martin Olsson volley that was bound for the top corner. 

    With the first half drawing to a close, both Alex Neil and Sam Allardyce would have been hoping to see their sides go into the break without conceding. Yet Norwich defender Andre Wisdom had other ideas when a clumsy challenge on Borini gave Sunderland a penalty. The Italian picked himself up and fired the visitors into the lead just before the break. 

    Alex Neil responded by introducing Nathan Redmond and the winger almost made an instant impact. He latched onto the ball 30 yards out and cracked a low effort against the post just three minutes after joining the fray. Yet it was to be Sunderland who were to deal another blow to their hosts. Bassong gave the ball away to Jan Kirchoff, who duly fed Borini. The Italian curled the ball across to Jermain Defoe who slid Sunderland into a two goal lead on 53 minutes.

    Jermain Defoe celebrates his 13th goal of the season

    The Canaries again looked to respond as Steven Naismith headed over when unmarked from six yards, before Dieumerci Mbokani was wrestled to the ground by Younes Kaboul, only for the penalty appeals to be waved away. Andre Wisdom saw an effort tipped over by Mannone, before Lee Cattermole cleared a Mbokani prod off the line as the hosts turned the screw. Cattermole was then at it again as he prevented the same player with another goalline clearance from the Congolese striker's header.

    Yet time was beginning to run out for Norwich, as Redmond had a free-kick turned over. Bassong went down in the area but the hosts had another penalty appeal waved away, as it became increasingly likely that it was not going to be Norwich's day. As the clock ticked over into injury time, their fate was sealed when Sebastian Larsson found Duncan Watmore who finished the move off with Sunderland's third.

    Sunderland are back in the race for survival

    The result leaves the bottom of the table intriguingly poised going into the last few weeks of the season, with Sunderland and Newcastle now one and three points behind Norwich respectively, each with a game in hand.

    Man of the Match: Lee Cattermole
    The Sunderland midfielder is the man you want in a relegation fight, as he is always willing to scrap for everything in the middle of the park. Yet he was also valuable at the Sunderland end of the pitch as he made a couple of crucial clearances.

    Photos from Getty Images
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    Item Reviewed: Norwich City 0-3 Sunderland: The Black Cats claw back their chance of survival Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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