Campbell lives the dream for wonder goal
Sunderland 3 (Campbell 21, Sessègnon 28, Ayala og 54) Norwich City 0
Fraizer Campbell's painfully long road to recovery, as he
admitted, consisted of dreams like last night; leaving the field in
the 74th minute, fit, healthy and afforded a standing ovation for
his match-winning performance.
This was his triumphant return in full – his FA Cup heroics on Sunday had been more a cameo. Back after a 17-month absence in the Premier League to destroy Norwich City and leave his superlative-loving manager searching for new ones. Fantastic seemed to be hitting the mark.
Campbell's goal, which came after 21 minutes, even drew emotion from Paul Lambert; "A wonder strike," he called it. And it was, a superb, angled volley from 30 yards looping over the Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy. The kind of goal a player who has fought back from two career-threatening knee injuries with such a smile deserved.
"You dream of night's like this when you are recovering," he said. "That's it, it's a long road but there is always light at the end of the tunnel and to score on a night like this ... it's as good a night as I've had here. The team played well and we didn't concede. It was great to see it go in."
It will go down in folklore now that Campbell went to away Premier League games in the Sunderland end, in disguise as he fought back from those injuries. It has certainly endeared him to the club's supporters, as did his opening goal and the fact he played a major part in the delightful second, watching Stéphane Sessègnon nutmeg Bradley Johnson on the halfway line before racing onto his strike-partner's pass down the right wing. This time he turned provider, crossing perfectly for Sessègnon to head in the second, and kill off what little resistance Norwich had offered. That was confirmed in the 54th minute when Daniel Ayala directed Phil Bardsley's low cross into his own goal.
Campbell looked stunned as he sat in the dugout after his substitution and appeared to say: "That's blown my head away." That was after an embrace from Martin O'Neill and before a glowing tribute. "I'm delighted for him," the Sunderland manager said. "If he hogs the headlines, then good for him. I've only known him a few weeks. He's been fantastic to have around the place. His attitude is fantastic. His overall enthusiasm is terrific but you need more than that and his play has been fantastic. His whole demeanour gives everyone a lift around the place. He was part of a side that played particularly well."
Norwich were barely involved, a fact acknowledged by Lambert. "There are no complaints tonight," he said. "We were second best, and when you are, that is what you get. There have not been many times we have said that. I am not being over-critical. Hopefully we will regroup. I'm confident they will pick themselves up."
Substitutes: Sunderland - Ji (Campbell, 74), Meyler (Sessègnon, 82), Bridge (Richardson, 82). Norwich City - Bennett (Johnson, 62), Pilkington (Hoolahan, 62), Wilbraham (Holt, 78).
Booked: Sunderland - Gardner. Norwich - Naughton.
Man of the match Campbell.
Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Sunderland 47% Norwich 53%.
Attempts on target: Sunderland 6 Norwich 4.
Referee L Mason (Lancashire). Attendance 34,476.
Latest in Sport
Wojciech Szczesny was 'lied to' by Arsene Wenger over future after £11m transfer of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech
England vs Japan - Women's World Cup semi-final: what time does it start and what channel is it on?
Christian Benteke to Liverpool: Aston Villa striker ready to reject Tottenham
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Edinson Cavani sent-off after Gonzalo Jara 'inserted finger into his anus' during Uruguay's 1-0 Copa America defeat to Chile
- 1 David Cameron refers to 83-year-old Labour MP Dennis Skinner as 'Jurassic Park'
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?