A Lewis Grabban brace and a phenomenal Aiden McGeady goal gave Sunderland a first Championship victory this season, beating Norwich City 3-1.
The new signings quality finishes gave Simon Grayson and Sunderland all three points, although a Grabban own goal ten minutes from time ensured Sunderland endured a nervy finish.
Defensive resilience and clinical finishing made the difference at Carrow Road, as Sunderland put themselves in the mix early into the Championship marathon.
The victory puts Sunderland on four points after two games, remaining unbeaten against well respected opponents at Championship level. Norwich have gathered just one point from their first two games and haven’t won in the league under new manager, Daniel Farke.
Norwich XI: Angus Gunn, Russell Martin (c), Christoph Zimmermann, Marcel Franke, Yanic Wildschut, Harrison Reed, James Husband, James Maddison, Steven Naismith, Marley Watkins, Cameron Jerome.
Subs: Michael McGovern, Ivo Pinto, Mario Vrancic, Nelson Oliveira, Josh Murphy, Wes Hoolahan, Alex Tettey.
Sunderland XI: Jason Steele, Billy Jones, Lamine Kone, Tyias Browning, Brendan Galloway, Lee Cattermole (c), Didier Ndong, George Honeyman, Aiden McGeady, Lewis Grabban, James Vaughan.
Subs: Robin Ruiter, Wahbi Khazri, John O’Shea, Adam Matthews, Darron Gibson, Lynden Gooch, Joel Asoro.
Sunderland held a narrow half time lead courtesy of Grabban’s opener, but Norwich City dominated both territory and possession in the first half.
The Canaries territorial dominance didn’t translate into much goal mouth action, with the home side often forced to settle for free kicks and corners as they attempted to build pressure.
A quick Sunderland counter nearly broke the deadlock. James Vaughan dropped into midfield to play a well timed through ball to his striker partner, Grabban. The Bournemouth loanee was forced wide and could only hit the side-netting from an angle that favoured Angus Gunn.
The first notable Norwich effort came from Skipper Russell Martin who exchanged quick passes with Yanic Wildschut before tamely shooting across Jason Steele. Steele was relatively untroubled due to the lack of power on the Scottish international’s shot.
Against the run of play, Sunderland bagged the simplest of goals. Steele’s long goal kick was flicked on by Vaughan, Grabban in behind the Norwich back-line, slotted home.
Soon after the goal, the game returned to the same pattern, with Norwich keeping the ball but failing to create. Unsurprisingly given their lack of cutting edge in open play, their best chance came from a free kick. Wildschut’s whipped ball was slightly above Cameron Jerome, who couldn’t keep his header down sailing a yard over.
In spite of a defensive approach the Black Cats missed a glorious chance for a second. An inventive quick free kick over the top from Lee Cattermole, released George Honeyman. The diminutive forward failed to connect effectively on the half-volley and the ball embarrassingly rolled towards the out-stretched Gunn.
Half Time: Norwich City 0-1 Sunderland ( Lewis Grabban, 27)
The second half followed a similar pastern to the first, with Grayson’s men content to contain Norwich and soak up pressure. Daniel Farke’s outfit continued to rely on corners and free kicks to create goal scoring opportunities as they couldn’t unlock a resilient Sunderland side.
It was from a corner that Norwich missed their first golden chance ten minutes after the re-start. A near post flick on saw the ball agonisingly bounce across the Wearsider’s six yard box only for Martin to miss badly. His lunging header went horribly wide, Jerome behind him was perhaps better placed to bury the close range chance.
Sunderland added a spectacular second soon after Cattermole teed up McGeady from a half-cleared corner. The Republic of Ireland international let fly, unleashing a rocket into the top corner. McGeady’s blast was unstoppable and had the visitors well placed for a first Championship victory this season.
Set pieces continued to look like Norwich’s best route back into the game. James Husband volleyed wide from close range after another another dangerous corner, mid-way through the second stanza.
Barely a minute after another missed Norwich chance it was three. Grabban bagged his second glancing in a wonderful McGeady cross. The 31 year old’s whipped delivery found Grabban unmarked six yards out, he couldn’t miss, nodding home comfortably.
Norwich pulled a goal back, eventually getting their reward for a series of dangerous set pieces. A long looping free kick into the Sunderland area, was headed back across goal by James Maddison, Grabban could only divert into his own net. The forward managing to shin the ball into the corner from close range.
Steele saved Sunderland next parrying away a powerful long range strike, before showing excellent reactions to spring up and save from Martin at close range.
Norwich threw the kitchen sink at Sunderland after their 78th minute goal, with Sunderland just about keeping the home side at bay for a morale boosting first win of the season.
Full Time: Norwich City (Grabban og) 1 - 3 Sunderland (Grabban x2, McGeady)
Jason Steele, 7/10 - Provided some crucial saves in the dying minutes, his best display in a Sunderland shirt.
Billy Jones, 6/10 - Was caught out positionally a few times in the first half, showed his usual commitment and resilience throughout.
Lamine Kone, 7/10 - Played well after a glacially slow start, handled Jerome’s physical threat well.
Tyias Browning, 8/10 - Simply outstanding. Read play excellently all afternoon, showed excellent instincts, awesome showing.
Brendan Galloway, 4/10 - A clear weakness in the team. Awful in the first half, slightly better after the break.
Lee Cattermole (c), 7/10 - Lead the team well with a composed performance, crucial in a resilient away showing.
Didier Ndong, 6/10 - Unusually wasteful in possession provided his normal energy and commitment regardless.
George Honeyman, 6/10 - Had a quiet game, worked hard but ineffective as an attacker, should have scored in the first half.
Aiden McGeady, 8/10 - Took over the game after a quiet first half. Showed brilliant quality for his assist and goal.
Lewis Grabban, 8/10 - Provided an attacking spark in an otherwise defensive first half from the lads. Took his goal’s brilliantly.
James Vaughan, 7/10 - An aerial threat throughout, showing a growing understanding with Grabban.
Darron Gibson (Sub) , 6/10 - Kept things ticking over, made a couple decent interceptions late on.
Lynden Gooch (Sub), 5/10 - Unable to impact the game, came on when Sunderland under severe pressure in fairness.
Man of the Match: Lewis Grabban - Sunderland’s one true threat throughout the game.