Sunderland 1, Norwich City 1
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City fought for an hour with 10 men to secure a valuable Premier League point from their trip to the Stadium of Light after goalkeeper Mark Bunn was sent off in the opening half.
After Wes Hoolahan gave the Canaries a 26th-minute lead, the game was dogged by controversial decisions by referee Chris Foy with Bunn's red card for handling outside the area followed by Sunderland's equaliser from a penalty after 40 minutes when Sebastien Bassong was also penalised for handball, Craig Gardner scoring from the spot.
City were up against it for much of the second half but substitute keeper Lee Camp – who replaced the unlucky Hoolahan – and the defence performed solidly and they should have had a penalty of their own in the second period when Danny Rose clearly handled a cross by Russell Martin with 20 minutes left, but a free-kick was awarded on the edge of the area.
City boss Chris Hughton sprang a surprise by leaving skipper Grant Holt on the bench and playing Kei Kamara as lone striker.
Hoolahan was recalled to the starting line-up, while Elliott Bennett replaced the injured Anthony Pilkington.
Sunderland showed three changes after the 3-1 defeat at Queens Park Rangers with recalls for Danny Rose, Carlos Cuellar and David Vaughan, while Titus Bramble, Jack Colback and Alfred N'Diaye dropped to the bench.
Sunderland forced a corner in the opening minute when Howson headed clear from Gardner's cross, Bunn punching away from Adam Johnson's kick.
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A bright attacking spell from Norwich earned their first corner, but Kamara was unable to control Snodgrass' kick as he attempted a shot on the turn.
Sunderland went close in the sixth minute when Bunn had to dive at the feet of Graham to stop him pouncing on a rebound in the six-yard box after Bassong had prevented Fletcher getting in a shot.
A foul by Turner gave Sunderland a free-kick 25 yards out, but after a long delay, Larsson fired it straight into the City wall.
City were down to 10 men while Bradley Johnson received attention for a bang in the face and he returned in the shirt with no number.
O'Shea headed over from Adam Johnson's inswinging corner as Sunderland had another set-piece opportunity.
Midway through the half, Sessegnon sliced a shot wide at the second attempt after Graham had put him through and his first effort was blocked.
An awkward clearance by Cuellar handed City a corner, but Mignolet punched clear from Snodgrass' kick, under pressure from Bassong.
The Canaries forced a flurry of corners at this stage and one of them provided them with the opening goal on 26 minutes.
Snodgrass took the kick from the right, Kamara leapt to nod it goalwards and Hoolahan, almost on the line, reacted smartly to head home.
It was City's first goal at the Stadium of Light since 1997.
With the home crowd becoming restless, Rose blazed over the bar from a Sessegnon pass.
But Sunderland were handed an unexpected bonus on the half-hour when Bunn was sent off for handball outside the area.
A poor header from Turner left Bunn in trouble and as he raced out to try to close down Graham and jumped to meet the bouncing ball, the ball struck the underside of his elbow and referee Foy, adjudging it handball, produced the red card.
Bunn was furious with the decision and when he eventually departed, he threw his gloves to the ground in anger.
Goalscorer Hoolahan was immediately sacrificed as substitute keeper Camp came on to replace Bunn with City down to 10 men.
The resulting free-kick was fired wide by Gardner, but with the extra man, Sunderland sensed a way back into the game.
There was further drama when Sunderland were handed a controversial penalty – and drew level five minutes before the break as Gardner scored from the spot.
Bassong appeared to control the ball with his chest but the assistant flagged for handball and after vigorous protests, during which Snodgrass was booked, Gardner thumped the penalty home.
Camp then made an excellent save, diving to his right to keep out a thumping effort from Larsson, with Graham putting the rebound wide.
On the stroke of half-time, Rose struck the post with a powerful left-foot shot.
• Half-time: Sunderland 1, Norwich City 1
Camp saved from Gardner eight minutes after the break as Sunderland pressed for a second against 10-man City.
Elliott Bennett shot wide from 20 yards in a rare Norwich raid on home territory, and Kamara headed back a Snodgrass free-kick with no on able to take advantage.
A rising drive by Gardner was tipped over by Camp as the hosts returned to the attack and, on the hour, Camp dived to his left to keep out another long-range Gardner attempt.
With 64 minutes gone, Hughton made a second change with Holt replacing Kamara.
With 20 minutes left, City were denied what looked a clear penalty when Russell Martin's cross was cut out by the hand of Rose, but a free-kick was given outside the area when the offence appeared to be clearly inside.
Bramble replaced the injured Cuellar but there was a real opening for City two minutes later when Holt was sent running clear against Mignolet, but he knocked the ball a touch too far and was then adjudged to have fouled the keeper, picking up a yellow card in the process.
With a quarter of an hour left, Sunderland made another change as McClean was sent on in place of Graham.
The home crowd were becoming more frustrated and some began to head for the exits with nearly 10 minutes to go.
Sunderland sent on Wickham for Adam Johnson with six minutes remaining as a last attempt to press home their extra man advantage.
Sessegnon hooked a shot wide from 10 yards when he might have done better and the travelling fans could breathe again.
With two minutes left, Whittaker was sent on for his first outing since before Christmas.
A foul by Larsson on Howson gave City a free-kick and the chance of a late assault, but Holt's header from Russell Martin's kick was fairly tame.
In four minutes of stoppage time, Camp was booked for time-wasting, but there was a real opening for City when Whittaker burst away on the left and crossed into the six-yard box, but Holt had not arrived in time to take advantage.
In the dying seconds, Larsson had a free-kick but O'Shea's backheader went wide.
The home side were booed off at the whistle for failing to see off 10 men, but for City it was an excellent point.
• Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, O'Shea, Cuellar (Bramble, 71), Rose; Sessegnon, Larsson, Vaughan, Adam Johnson (Wickham, 84) ; Graham (McClean, 75), Fletcher. Subs (not used): Westwood, Bardsley, N'Diaye, Colback.
• Norwich City: Bunn; Russell Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido; Howson, Bradley Johnson; Elliott Bennett, Hoolahan (Camp, 32), Snodgrass (Whittaker, 88); Kamara (Holt, 64). Subs (not used): Ryan Bennett, Fox, Jackson, Becchio.
• Referee: Chris Foy (Liverpool)
• Attendance: 38,625 (728 City fans)
• Goals: Sunderland: Gardner (pen, 40). City: Hoolahan (26)
• Red card: City: Bunn (30)
• Bookings: Sunderland: Larsson (89). City: Snodgrass (39), Holt (72), Camp (90)