Monday 5 December 2016

Canaries on song as Sunderland look set for another season of struggle

Sunderland 1 Norwich City 3

Damian Spellman

Published 15/08/2015 | 17:12

Norwich City's Russell Martin celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game
Norwich City's Russell Martin celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game

Norwich play-maker Wes Hoolahan turned in a master class as Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat witnessed another horror show.

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The Republic of Ireland international was the architect of a 3-1 victory at the Stadium of Light, his side's first on Wearside since 1997 against the opposition which had presented the Canaries with their last Barclays Premier League victory.

First-half goals from defenders Russell Martin and Steven Whittaker and a third after the break from Nathan Redmond left the home fans among a crowd of 41,379 singing: "Are you watching, Ellis Short?"

The Black Cats are desperately short of the quality they need to avoid yet another relegation scrap.

It was Hoolahan's invention - he played key roles in the second and third goals - which repeatedly tore the home side apart and helped to pave the way for Norwich's first win of the new season despite substitute Duncan Watmore's late consolation strike.

Advocaat shelved his retirement plans to accept the job of head coach after initially turning down chairman Short's offer of an extended stay, and he could have been forgiven for regretting his decision by the time the break arrived.

Having seen his team capitulate horribly in the first-half at Leicester last weekend, he looked on as they shouldered arms once again as a lack of cutting edge going forward and an inability to defend once again cost them dearly.

Norwich, who had also emerged from their opening day fixture empty-handed, were far sharper and exploited their hosts' frailty at the back in ruthless fashion, if initially with a touch of good fortune when keeper Costel Pantilimon could only push Robbie Brady's 26th-minute shot against the shins of Martin and ultimately into the back of the net.

Whittaker added to Advocaat's misery eight minutes before the break when he played a one-two with the excellent Hoolahan with full-back Patrick van Aanholt, who was at fault for the opening goal, once again marooned, and fired past the helpless Pantilimon.

Steven Fletcher headed just wide from Jeremain Lens' 41st-minute cross as Sunderland mustered a response of sorts, but the boos which greeted the half-time whistle told their own story.

Advocaat changed it at the break, sending on striker Danny Graham for midfielder Sebastian Larsson, and his side returned with greater purpose, Lens smashing a 47th-minute shot into the midriff of keeper John Ruddy, who had not previously had a save to make.

But the respite was short-lived and Redmond wrapped up the win with 33 minutes still to go when he exchanged passes with Hoolahan and slid a shot past the stranded Pantilimon.

Watmore produced an exciting late cameo, which included an 88th-minute goal on his Premier League debut, to give the home fans something to shout about, but it was all too little, too late.

Press Association

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