Sunderland got back to winning ways on Sunday, as Abdoullah Ba’s first Sunderland goal was enough to earn all three points against Norwich City.
The Black Cats went into the game having lost their last three games, whilst the Canaries were five games unbeaten.
Tony Mowbray made three changes from Sunderland’s 5-1 defeat to Stoke, with Edouard Michut, Ba and Luke O’Nien replacing Alex Pritchard, Amad Diallo and Aji Alese- who would miss the rest of the season with a thigh injury.
David Wagner made just one change to his in-form side, with Marcelino Nunez replacing Jacob Sorensen.
Ba put Sunderland ahead early on, and the away team did a great job of shutting down any Norwich chances with some resolute defending.
It was the perfect response to last week’s home defeat, bouncing back with a very solid defensive performance at Carrow Road.
In the opening stages Max Aarons should have done better when he was free in Sunderland’s box, but Anthony Patterson saved his shot comfortably.
Soon after, Teemu Pukki picked out Nunez, who scuffed the shot safely into Patterson’s hands.
After 14 minutes Ba’s left-footed effort found the net after he was played through by Joe Gelhardt, and his left-footed effort was well-placed into the bottom corner.
Minutes later Gelhardt should have doubled the lead, smashing a close-range shot straight at Gunn rather than placing it into either corner.
Norwich may have dominated possession, but Sunderland defended resolutely and looked dangerous on the counter. They went into half time well worth the 1-0 advantage.
A Sunderland corner came out to Jack Clarke, his fierce shot stinging the palms of the keeper, but Gelhardt couldn’t control the rebound.
Pukki had a huge chance to convert Dimitris Giannoulis’ cross, but his volley didn’t have enough power.
Norwich upped the pressure in the last 20 minutes, but Sunderland stayed organised and some tenacious defending meant they never looked nervy at the back. The likes of Danny Batth and Dan Ballard threw themselves in front of every shot and did all they could to secure a well-deserved clean sheet.
The win put Sunderland in 10th, just five points away from Millwall in the play-off spots.