Sunderland got back to winning ways after claiming a well-earned 1-0 victory against Norwich City at Carrow Road in the Sky Bet Championship.
Abdoullah Ba’s first goal for the club in the early stages of the first half proved to be match-winning as the Black Cats held on to claim a clean sheet and three vital points.
Sunderland created the game’s first opportunity inside the opening 10 minutes when Jack Clarke collected Trai Hume’s crossfield pass before cutting inside and firing a low shot straight at Angus Gunn.
Anthony Patterson was called into action moments later when Gabriel Sara’s floated pass over the Sunderland defence found an unmarked Max Aarons; the full-back’s drilled effort forced the goalkeeper into a smart save to his near post.
Patterson was perfectly positioned moments later to deny Marcelino Nunez from 12 yards out after Teemu Pukki initially found space inside the visitor’s box.
The Black Cats opened the scoring on 15 minutes, Joe Gelhardt found an advanced Ba midway inside the Norwich half, the midfielder’s long-range strike from 25 yards out finding Gunn’s bottom right-hand corner.
The visitors should have doubled their lead two minutes later, Dan Neil’s header back into the host’s danger area played Gelhardt through on goal but the striker’s effort from close range was saved by Gunn.
There was little to show after the interval, until Clarke came close to grabbing Sunderland a second goal on the hour mark, firstly forcing a corner after his curling goal-bound shot deflected wide.
The attacker connected sweetly with the ball from the resulting corner on the edge of the box forcing Gunn into an awkward stop after the ball flashed through a crowd of players, but Gelhardt was unable to control the rebound.
Norwich continued to push forward inside the final ten minutes in desperate search of an equaliser, but Sunderland’s defence held firm to deny The Canaries and claim a deserved victory away from home.
The Black Cats return to the Stadium of Light on Wednesday evening when they face Sheffield United in the Sky Bet Championship.
Sunderland XI: Patterson, Hume, Batth ©, Ballard, O’Nien, Neil, Michut (Ekwah 66’), Roberts, Ba (Gooch 66’), Clarke, Gelhardt (Lihadji 78’)
Subs not used: Bass, Bennette, Anderson, Taylor.
Norwich City XI: Gunn, Aarons (Sorensen 56’), Hanley, Gibson, Idah (Sargent 46’), Sara, Pukki, McLean, Hernandez (Marquinhos 56’), Nunez (Tzolis 73’), Giannoulis.
Subs not used: Krul, Omobamidele, Gibbs.