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Premier League

  • 1 February 2012
  • • 20:00
  • • Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Referee: L. Mason
  • • Attendance: 34476

Sunderland 3-0 Norwich City: Campbell & Sessegnon strike before Ayala own goal completes comfortable Black Cats victory

Sunderland 3-0 Norwich City: Campbell & Sessegnon strike before Ayala own goal completes comfortable Black Cats victory

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Martin O'Neill's men continue their unlikely assault on a European spot with fourth win in five games as the Black Cats leapfrog the Canaries, Stoke and Everton into eighth

Sunderland continued their excellent revival under Martin O’Neill with a comfortable 3-0 Premier League victory over Norwich City.

Stunning goals from Fraizer Campbell and Stephane Sessegnon before an own goal from Canaries defender Dani Ayala ensured the Black Cats kept up their outside chances of qualifying for Europe.

Campbell set the team on their way with a magnificent volley from 25 yards after 20 minutes before turning provider shortly after as he crossed for Sessegnon to head home a wonderfully crafted goal.

The Black Cats continued to dominate as the game wore on and they got a third just after the break when Phil Bardsley’s cross was diverted into his own net by Ayala.

Martin O’Neill made four changes to his team that beat Swansea on January 21, but not one of them was new signing Wayne Bridge who had to be content with a place on the bench, while Sotirios Kyrgiakos didn’t make it into the squad.

Instead Michael Turner, Jack Colback, Craig Gardner and Campbell – starting his first Premier League for over 18 months – came in for Wes Brown, Lee Cattermole, David Vaughan and Nicklas Bendtner, respectively.

Paul Lambert made two changes to his team from the 0-0 draw with Chelsea last time out as Andrew Crofts and Wes Hoolahan returned to the starting line-up in place of Anthony Pilkington and David Fox.

The home side made a bright start against the sprightly Canaries as first the ever-impressive James McClean provided a perfect cross for Campbell, but he headed straight at John Ruddy and then Sessegnon found Sebastian Larsson free inside the area, but the winger disappointingly dragged his shot wide.

Norwich went close shortly after as a long free kick was flicked on by Steve Morrison into the path of Grant Holt, who had found space in the area, but the City skipper volleyed straight at Simon Mignolet on the volley.

Campbell then continued his magnificent comeback to football after two horrific knee injuries with a goal of the season contender in the 21st minute.

After getting a lucky ricochet, the striker took one touch to get the ball out of his feet and from 25 yards volleyed the ball into the top corner.

Sunderland doubled the score seven minutes later as Sessegnon finished off a wonderful flowing move.

Kyle Naughton’s cross was headed away to the Benin international in his own half before he turned and drifted by Bradley Johnson and then sprayed the ball out to Campbell, with the striker then crossing first time on to the head of Sessegnon who couldn’t miss from six yards out.

Such was the home side’s dominance it was something of a surprise that they were only 2-0 up at the break as Norwich struggled to cope with the high tempo nature of Martin O’Neill’s men.

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The second half began much in the same way as the first with the home side on the front foot and it took them just nine minutes to break through the porous Norwich defence.

Excellent link-up play down the right hand side ended with Bardsley racing towards the goal before his powerful cut back was diverted into the net by Canaries defender Ayala.

Admirably, or somewhat naively, Norwich continued to try and score, which left them terribly over-exposed at the back at times and Craig Gardner had two good chances to extend the lead further.

Sunderland’s tempo dropped in the closing stages as they seemed content with their fourth win in five games and the three points they earned with a dominant display that leaves them eighth place and within touching distance of an unlikely European spot.