Norwich and Sunderland faced off in a game which was the true definition of a ‘relegation six-pointer’. 3 points for either side would have been crucial, but given Sunderland’s position coming into the game, it really did seem like a must not lose match if they were to stand any chance of catching the canaries, who could have moved 7 points ahead of the black cats with a victory.
In front of a packed crowd at Carrow Road, Norwich started the brightest, dominating the majority of proceedings meanwhile Sunderland look set to hit them on the counter with Defoe.The home side also looked very promising from set pieces as Sunderland looked puzzled as to how they could clear their lines, and often left Howson at the edge of the area dangerously unmarked.
Despite the promise at the offensive end of the team, the defensive side seemed very nervy, often carelessly misplacing 5-10 yard passes, which has been something that hasn’t really been present in recent weeks. This for me highlights how much they missed their Swiss centre back Timm Klose, who was very quickly becoming a fans favourite and seemed like a very good piece of business before picking up what seems to be a ligament injury against Crystal Palace.
The opening, in this fairly open spectacle, came as a result of a rash challenge by Liverpool loanee, Andre Wisdom, in the 41st minute. Wisdom, who despite getting a slight nick on the ball clearly caught Borini just above the ankle, which caused the referee, Andre Mariner to award the penalty. Borini calmly tucked the penalty into the bottom left-hand corner of the net, just about beating Ruddy who wasn’t too far away from getting a hand to it.
Alex Neil made a tactical change to bring on Redmond for Robbie Brady during the halftime interval. This surprised me in some sense as Brady was having some success from his set pieces. Meanwhile, Allardyce opted for Watmore to replace Khazri who had picked up a caution in the first half.
Sunderland doubled their advantage in the 53rd minute when Seb Bassong was caught in two minds in their defensive third. Borini, who claimed the ball from the Cameroonian international, drove into the penalty area before squaring the ball back to Defoe who placed the ball past Ruddy and ultimately gave Norwich a mountain to climb.
Redmond, who looked lively since his introduction did fire a sweet strike which hammered the post to the dismay of the home fans. It seemed like another one of them days for the Norfolk side, where the ball just didn’t want to go into the Sunderland net.
The game was put well beyond reach in the 91st minute when Watmore made the most of a great pass from Seb Larsson to seal a huge 3 points for the visitors. This result means that Sunderland are now only one point behind Norwich, with a game in hand and a favourable goal difference.
This match really summed up Norwich’s season of missed opportunities. The Premier League is an unforgiving league and ultimately they haven’t been as clinical as they would have liked. This is something that Alex Neil will have to address along with his side’s defensive dilemma after suggesting that Timm Klose’s injury could see him miss the remainder of the season.
Man Of The Match: Jermain Defoe
Understandably others have opted for the likes of Lee Cattermole who certainly had a very good performance. However for me, Defoe was the real difference between the two teams, and although it was by no means his best performance, he still managed to score an important goal. His goal-scoring exploits will have been the main factor to Sunderland’s survival if they are indeed set to pull off another escape act.
What did you make of the match? Please leave your comments below.
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