Norwich City rose into the top half of the Premier League table, following a well-deserved if ultimately nervy victory over Sunderland at a raucous Carrow Road last night.
Well-worked goals from Leon Barnett and Steve Morison had put Paul Lambert's neat-passing side in control but a hitherto anaemic Sunderland finally awoke, pulling one back through Kieran Richardson.
This set the scene for a frantic finale but Norwich, despite going down to 10 men when James Vaughan's injury jinx struck again, held firm to go ninth.
Norwich looked sharp, driving down the flanks through Anthony Pilkington and Marc Tierney on the left with Elliott Bennett and Kyle Naughton down the right.
For an hour, Lambert's side were far more purposeful than the under-fire Steve Bruce's.
Sunderland's poor marking must have made particularly painful viewing for a former defender of Bruce's calibre. When Morison pounced early in the second half, Norwich fans began chanting "Brucey, Brucey, what's the score?"
Titus Bramble was regaled with taunts for his Ipswich Town roots and the home fans' merriment almost raised the rafters when the centre-half slipped up, giving Wes Hoolahan a chance. As Simon Mignolet rushed out, Hoolahan over-clubbed his lob.
On the half-hour, Norwich broke through and what a goal it was, a goal more suited to the Nou Camp than Norfolk.
Bennett began to move, racing down the right, allowed far too much room by Larsson, who failed to track back. Bennett exchanged passes with David Fox before crossing low for Barnett to tap in. Barnett had been given the freedom of the six-yard box by Bramble.
The anguish intensified for Sunderland after the break. Norwich were again sharper, again hungrier. Again they punished Bruce's side with another delivery from out wide, this time from Tierney, whose cross was headed in by Morison.
Sunderland almost pulled one back on the hour when Bradley Johnson slipped up, Bendtner seized the ball and only John Ruddy's reflexes prevented a goal.
Sunderland finally responded five minutes from time, Richardson's left-footed strike racing past Ruddy, but despite some nervy moments in the home defence, the visitors could not force an equaliser. (© Daily Telegraph, London)