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Sunderland recorded a potentially crucial 3-0 victory over relegation rivals Norwich City at Carrow Road.
Vito Mannone reacted well to prevent Younes Kaboul from diverting Robbie Brady’s low cross into his own net before Fabio Borini secured a half-time lead for the Black Cats, striking from the penalty spot after being recklessly fouled by Andre Wisdom.
Jermain Defoe’s close-range effort, following a Sebastien Bassong error and Borini’s fine delivery, doubled Sunderland’s lead early in the second period.
Norwich ought to have been awarded a penalty for a drag by Kaboul on Dieumerci Mbokani but referee Andre Marriner took no action.
Substitute Duncan Watmore forced a finish through John Ruddy to wrap up Sunderland’s triumph, which lifts Sam Allardyce’s men to within a point of the 17th-placed Canaries.
Sunderland remain 18th but have five games left to play, compared to the Canaries’ four.
The hosts bossed the majority of the first half but it was Sunderland who had the best of the opportunities, with Borini twice threatening inside the box before Lee Cattermole fired the Italian’s neat pull-back off target.
The visitors found the net four minutes prior to the break thanks largely to Wisdom’s over-the-top challenge on Borini, who recovered to confidently sweep his spot-kick beyond the reach of Ruddy.
The Canaries began the second half at lightening pace, striking the outside of Mannone’s right-hand post through Nathan Redmond’s long-range effort.
Norwich, however, fell further behind when Jan Kirchhoff robbed Bassong and fed Borini, who curled a pinpoint low cross for Defoe to slide in Sunderland’s second goal.
The Yellows pushed desperately for a lifeline. Following a cross from Wisdom that struck the top of Sunderland’s crossbar, Cattermole hacked away a scuffed effort from Mbokani before blocking substitute Wes Hoolahan's goal-bound shot.
Attacking almost relentlessly, the home side kept Mannone busy and had several unsuccessful penalty appeals, most notably for Kaboul’s clear pull on Mbokani.
Leaving space at the back was inevitable, and Sunderland took full advantage just after the 90-minute mark, as Watmore collected a simple but incisive pass from fellow substitute Sebastien Larsson and forced in a finish from a tight angle, confirming a huge triumph for the Wearsiders in the battle to beat the drop.
Sunderland and Norwich, along with Newcastle United, look set to fight to the death to avoid joining Aston Villa in dropping into the Championship.