Premier League: Ten-man Norwich secure point against Sunderland
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp. Last Updated: 17/03/13 9:27pm
Norwich held out for a point against struggling Sunderland despite the first-half dismissal of goalkeeper Mark Bunn in a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.
Wes Hoolahan had headed Norwich into the lead before Bunn saw red for handling outside his box, with Sunderland then levelling from the penalty spot before the break through Craig Gardner after Sebastien Bassong was adjudged to have handled.
Norwich broke the deadlock in the 26th minute after some dismal defending from Sunderland, as they allowed Kei Kamara a free header inside the six yard box from Robert Snodgrass' corner, with Hoolahan diverting the ball home from virtually on the goalline.
Best of the match
- Man of the match: Russell Martin. His composure dealing with Rose and Sessegnon was admirable, as was his covering to help out his centre-backs.
- Goal of the match: Gardner's penalty was beautifully dispatched from 12 yards.
- Attempt of the match: Gardner's vicious second half drive was heading straight for the top corner before Camp got fingertips to it.
- Save of the match: Camp made good stops from both Gardner and Sessegnon in the second half.
- Moment of the match: Bunn's red card put Norwich on the back foot for much of the game but they defended well and deserved their point.
- Talking point: A draw does little for either team, and both will still be wary of their precarious positions right above the Premier League relegation zone.
The tension inside the stadium increased as the Black Cats fell behind, but just four minutes later the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Bunn raced from his area to deny Danny Graham after Michael Turner's poor back-header, with the ball striking his chest and arm.
Referee Chris Foy had no hesitation despite Bunn's furious protests and those of his team-mates, with replays showing the official made the right call, with Lee Camp coming on for the Canaries and goalscorer Hoolahan the outfield player to be sacrificed.
Camp was then rooted to the spot as Gardner's resulting free-kick whistled inches wide of the post, but he could do nothing about Sunderland's equaliser in the 40th minute, with Norwich again left infuriated by the decision-making of the officials.
John O'Shea's hopeful ball into the box struck the chest of Bassong and rolled down his outstretched left arm, with Foy acting on the advice of his assistant who had a perfect view. Gardner showed great composure to find the top corner from 12 yards to level the scores.
Sunderland twice came close to taking the lead before the break as Graham skewed wide after Camp had pushed away Sebastian Larsson's pile-driver, before Danny Rose struck the outside of the post via a deflection off Turner with the last kick of the half.
Sunderland were on the front foot immediately in the second half, with Stephane Sessegnon given a free role and Gardner very advanced on the right, and the latter warmed Camp's fingers in the 59th minute with a stinging drive after being set up by Fletcher, while Mignolet had to be alert to clear from outside the box with Kamara bearing down on goal.
Norwich then had reason to feel aggrieved with Rose penalised for handball, with replays showing he was clearly inside the area, rather than outside as Russell Martin's cross struck his arm, but Foy gave a free-kick on the line.
Substitute Grant Holt had a great chance to give the visitors the lead when substitute Titus Bramble completely misjudged a long ball forward, but the striker's first touch was far too heavy and allowed Mignolet to gather, with the Canaries captain booked for lunging in on the keeper.
Despite their numerical advantage, Sunderland failed to test Camp with any regularity, with Sessegnon hooking a good chance wide late on, and Martin O'Neill's men have now taken just three points from seven games with fixtures against Manchester United, Chelsea and Newcastle on the horizon.
Sunderland boss O'Neill admitted after the final whistle that fortune may have favoured his side on this occasion, but insisted they have had decisions go against them in the past.
He told Sky Sports: "Not that we deserved much luck today, but there have been about seven penalty decisions which have gone against us in recent times.
"So perhaps that little bit of luck that we may not have deserved may have been due in our direction."
Norwich counterpart Chris Hughton preferred to praise the performance of his players, rather than criticise referee Foy and his assistants.
He told Sky Sports: "Of course, everybody will speak about the three big decisions, but I owe it to this group of lads to praise them for the quality of their performance.
"I don't think there would be anybody in this stadium who would think we didn't deserve to get at least a point."
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