Norwich City gave their Barclays Premier League survival hopes a boost as they battled to a 2-0 win over 10-man Sunderland.
Robert Snodgrass broke the deadlock in the 20th minute with a well-placed finish, before Alex Tettey doubled the lead with a superb 30-yard volley. Sunderland improved after the break and Wes Brown went close with 50 minutes gone, but any chance of a late comeback ended with Marcos Alonso's stoppage-time sending off for a second booking. Victory puts Norwich seven points above the relegation zone, while Sunderland remain in the bottom three.
Hughton spoke in the build-up of his pride at becoming Norwich's longest-serving Barclays Premier League manager, although he was keen to stress that his focus remains on helping to ensure their top-flight status for another year. They made an encouraging start in that bid, the hosts having an early penalty appeal turned down when Sebastien Bassong was brought down by Brown.
After 20 excellent minutes, Norwich took the lead through Snodgrass, as the Scotland winger arrived late into the penalty area and slotted past Vito Mannone following Johan Elmander's cut-back. Norwich nearly made it 2-0 six minutes later, but Ricky van Wolfswinkel failed to tap in Wes Hoolahan's low cross. Their second eventually arrived in the 33rd minute, and it came in spectacular fashion. Hoolahan had his initial cross headed away by John O'Shea, but Tettey latched on to the loose ball before sending a stunning volley into the top corner from 30 yards.
Both goalkeepers played key roles early in the second period, as Mannone tipped a Van Wolfswinkel header over the crossbar, before John Ruddy denied Brown at the other end from point-blank range. Sunderland showed renewed focus in the second half and had much more of the ball, but Norwich still looked more threatening on the break with Snodgrass almost getting his second of the match before Brown made a crucial block.
Norwich seemed set to regain control going into the final 20 minutes and Hoolahan tested Mannone once more after a clever interchange with Gary Hooper, but the Italian goalkeeper saved down to his left. Things got worse for Sunderland before the end, as Alonso was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Snodgrass in stoppage time, compounding a disappointing day for the visitors.
Norwich City manager Chris Hughton: "From start to finish we were excellent. It is difficult when you have such a good first half to sustain that performance but it's another clean sheet here and we have been good at Carrow Road. We now have to take what we have done here away from home.
"We could've had more goals and with the manner of this win, if it doesn't give us confidence then nothing will. We were not good enough last week but today has been a good day for us."
Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet: "The first 30 minutes was the biggest disappointment, we were second best and not competing enough. We need to be better from the beginning of games.
"We have 10 games left and we are the only team that have that quantity. We need to get over at least 36 or 37 points so win four from 10, but we need to play better than we did today.
"It is about keeping believing and making sure we don't play like we did in the first 30 minutes, but I'm sure we are going to be OK. I'm a positive person and believe in what we do - and the players do as well."
|29 Mar 2014||v Swansea (A)|
|05 Apr 2014||v West Brom (H)|
|12 Apr 2014||v Fulham (A)|
|20 Apr 2014||v Liverpool (H)|
|26 Apr 2014||v Man Utd (A)|
|04 May 2014||v Chelsea (A)|