Sunderland 1 - 1 Norwich City

Match info: Premier League at Stadium of Light

Date: 17/03/2013 KO: 13:30 Ref: C Foy Att: 38,625

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers


Craig Gardner 40 (pen)



Wes Hoolahan 26

FT (ht: 1-1)

  • Last Updated: March 17 2013, 19:13 GMT

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has warned his beleaguered players it will not get any easier as they attempt to avoid a fight for Barclays Premier League survival.

O'Neill: Three points went begging

The Black Cats were only able to take a point from Norwich, who played for more than an hour at the Stadium of Light with only 10 men, as they failed to end their search for first a league victory at the seventh attempt.

O'Neill will now send his international players away to their respective countries keeping his fingers crossed that they return unscathed ahead of a run of games which sees his side face Manchester United, Chelsea, Newcastle and Everton.

O'Neill said: "We had an opportunity there to go and try to get three points. It's difficult - it's been difficult all season for us.

"But we have games still to play, tough matches, every one of them. But the whole league has been tough for us.

"I wouldn't stop at four - they are all difficult games. This is the league. You play everybody twice, this is the run of games.

"But we had a situation around about Christmas-time when people were showing the fixture list then, and we were able to win back-to-back games against Southampton and Manchester City, so we have to go and do that again.

"My concern, obviously, is the players going away on international duty. I won't see them for some time and I'm hoping they come back in one piece."

O'Neill's frustration was all the more acute as his side enjoyed the benefit of three key decisions by referee Chris Foy, two of which were correct and the third more dubious.

Norwich took the lead with 26 minutes gone when Wes Hoolahan headed home from close range after Kei Kamara had helped Robert Snodgrass' corner towards goal.

However, they were dealt a major blow within three minutes when keeper Mark Bunn was sent off for handling outside his box as he blocked Danny Graham's effort.

Sunderland levelled five minutes before the break after Sebastien Bassong was adjudged to have blocked John O'Shea's pass with his arm and Craig Gardner blasted home the resulting penalty, although Canaries boss Chris Hughton insisted Graham should have been given offside before the ball struck the defender.

Hughton said: "The lad has come from an offside position - and that is the same linesman who gave the penalty decision. He has not given an offside and he has given a handball."

The home side dominated possession after the break, but apart from a Gardner shot which was repelled at his near post by substitute keeper Lee Camp, they created little of note.

Indeed, had

Foy awarded a penalty rather than a free-kick inches outside the area after Danny Rose blocked Russell Martin's 70th-minute cross with his arm, they might have come away empty-handed.

O'Neill admitted Sunderland might have been fortunate on the Rose incident, but was unhappy with substitute Grant Holt's second-half challenge on keeper Simon Mignolet after he had over-run the ball.

The Ulsterman said: "I have not seen one incident back yet, but I have been assured that we have got a bit of luck with Danny Rose's, and the other two decisions are correct.

"They tell me that Holt's challenge is quite nasty on the goalkeeper."

Hughton was understandably the happier of the two managers as he was able to reflect upon a performance of real character despite their recent run now extending to just one league win in 13 attempts.

He said: "To be down to 10 men for as long as we were in this game and to come out of it with what I thought in normal play was probably the best chance of the game through Grant Holt when he was through - if his touch was a little bit softer, he was on for a one v one.

"But I can't remember a clear chance that Sunderland had, so I think we have got to give credit to a group of lads who were desperate to get something out of this game."

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