Norwich City hit back to earn 1-1 Championship draw at Sunderland
PUBLISHED: 09:09 11 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:22 11 April 2018
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Ivo Pinto earned Norwich City a late Championship point in an eventful 1-1 draw at relegation-haunted Sunderland on Tuesday night at the Stadium of Light.
Pinto slotted from close range with City running out of time after George Honeyman looked to have sealed the points for the struggling Wearsiders with a 63rd minute close range finish.
Sunderland’s Aiden McGeady also missed a first half penalty for Chris Coleman’s side, who remain firmly in the bottom three, but Norwich carved out a stack of chances to earn the victory.
Farke opted to make four changes and restore the same line up who capitulated at QPR on Easter Monday.
James Husband and Christoph Zimmermann came into the backline, with Timm Klose and Jamal Lewis dropping out.
Wes Hoolahan replaced Alex Tettey for a landmark 350th appearance in Norwich colours and Nelson Oliveira getting another chance up top for Dennis Srbeny.
Given the fallout from that 4-1 Championship loss at Loftus Road and the emphatic response to sink Aston Villa at the weekend it was an intriguing call from Farke.
The City head coach is clearly turning his attentions to next season and beyond, if you scratch below the surface of his recent public pronouncements.
After an abject failure from this set of players at QPR, here was another chance to convince the head coach they can be a part of his plans.
Husband’s first errant clearance perhaps betrayed a sense of nervousness as Ashley Fletcher advanced and drilled an angled shot beaten away by Angus Gunn.
The stinging admonishment from Harrison Reed towards Husband pierced the fog enveloping the Stadium of Light. It was a reckless invitation to a Sunderland side desperate to revive fading hopes of avoiding the drop into League One.
That anxiety transferred to the home ranks when Ivo Pinto burst forward but James Maddison was crowded out before rolling a short pass to Josh Murphy, who was unable to match the majesty of his goal against the Villans.
Oliveira cut inside and slammed a long range shot past Lee Camp’s right-hand post. The Portuguese international is another who needs to impress with Srbeny opening his account on Saturday and earning rave reviews for his tactical nous from Farke.
City’s head coach expects less turbulence to his squad in the summer recess than his first close season but there is no doubt Stuart Webber will be tasked with unearthing a genuine goal threat. That may be a signal Oliveira has failed to sufficiently impress, after being earmarked as the leading man at the outset of this campaign.
The 26-year-old must grasp any chance he can in the final weeks of the season to make a compelling case. Particularly when the home centre forward, Middlesbrough loanee Fletcher, was heavily touted with Norwich in January.
That may have been little more than fevered speculation but given Webber is working under tight financial parameters, you can be sure the loan route will again form one part of his transfer strategy.
Only the woodwork denied Oliveira in the 26th minute when his clever movement earned him a free header from Maddison’s corner.
The vibrant Murphy then picked him out at the far post but his sliding effort six yards out squirmed wide.
The effort was not in question. The clinical edge was. That has been the signature dish for Norwich all season.
City’s soaring confidence almost proved their downfall when Grant Hanley was engulfed by a swarm of Sunderland attackers but Coleman’s side were unable to test Gunn.
Murphy’s self-belief was underlined by an audacious 40-yard chip that drifted over with Camp back-pedalling.
Maddison then cushioned a delightfully disguised chip over Donald Love but the flyer lobbed his half-volley onto the roof of Camp’s net from the angle of the six yard box.
Such profligacy appeared costly when Sunderland were awarded a spot kick in the 39th minute. Hanley was penalised for a mis-timed tackle on Fletcher, after McGeady had robbed Hoolahan in central midfield, but his former Republic of Ireland team mate slammed the spot kick against the foot of Gunn’s left-hand post.
City were cut open again minutes later when Ovie Ejaria burst through with just Gunn to beat but Murphy steamed back to bail out his friend when Ejaria opted to try and go around the keeper.
Farke was clearly unhappy with the openness of the contest as Klose and Lewis were introduced at the interval and the defensive back three restored - Husband and Hoolahan making way.
The visitors were now far more compact without the ball but looking to profit on the counter. Maddison led the breakout in the 56th minute before feeding Vrancic who cut inside and unleashed a left footed 18-yard strike inches wide.
Maddison then stabbed a close range shot against the outside of a post from inside the six yard box after Oliveira drew Camp before squaring to the unmarked midfielder.
Honeyman punished the Canaries just past the hour mark when he reacted quickest to slot McGeady’s low shot which thudded against the base of Gunn’s near post.
Farke reacted with Srbeny replacing Zimmermann. Vrancic surged forward but his rising shot veered into the tense home fans.
Maddison miscued from 20 yards before Srbeny was equally wayward but City salvaged a point in the final minute of normal time when Pinto coolly slotted five yards out after Sunderland failed to clear Maddison’s free kick.
Norwich could and should have sealed the win when Camp denied Murphy before Maddison curled over.
• Sunderland: Camp, Cattermole, Fletcher, O’Shea (Clarke-Salter 69), McGeady, Matthews (Oviedo 45), Love, Kone, Honeyman, Gooch (Lualua 90), Ejaria. Subs (not used): Steele (GK), McManaman, Asoro, Robson.
• Goal: Honeyman (63)
• Norwich City: Gunn, Pinto, Hanley, Zimmermann (Srbeny 77), Husband (Lewis 45), Reed, Vrancic, Hoolahan (Klose 45), Maddison, Murphy, Oliveira. Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Leitner, Raggett, Tettey.
• Goal: Pinto (89)
• Time added on: 1 minute / 3 minutes
• Referee: David Coote (Notts)
• Attendance: 24,894 (547 away fans)