For Sunderland, 2013 cannot end quickly enough. In the 93rd minute, another miserable afternoon was compounded when Wes Brown was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Ricky van Wolfswinkel that left the Norwich substitute floored and his team-mates furious. The centre half, who was also sent off against Stoke last month, a decision that was rescinded, showed a reckless side in the tackle.
He will now miss Sunderland’s next three games and they can ill afford to be without one of their most influential players, following his return against Manchester City in November after a prolonged period absent through injury.
Gus Poyet, the Sunderland manager, refused to give his thoughts on Martin Atkinson’s decision, but said: “It will be more difficult [through Brown’s absence], that is for sure. We were getting stability in defence. We were getting clean sheets. Now we have lost one of the leaders and it is unexpected. I didn’t see it slowly. I can’t comment on it.
“When you are at the bottom you lose the player you don’t want to lose. The decision doesn’t go your way. The keeper makes an unbelievable save. There is always something. It is life at the bottom. We were not expecting this. I hate excuses.”
Sunderland have failed to score now in eight Premier League games. Jozy Altidore, who was again preferred to Steven Fletcher, has scored once in 14 League games this season following his £6 million summer move.
A Brown header, and when Ki Sung-yueng lobbed a shot onto the top of the Norwich goal, was as close as Sunderland got to a goal. In reply, Gary Hooper and van Wolfswinkel both missed good opportunities for the visitors.
Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Mannone; Celustka, Brown, O’Shea, Bardsley; Cattermole; Borini, Ki, Larsson (Roberge, 90), Giaccherini (Johnson, 63); Altidore (Fletcher, 68).
Norwich City (4-4-2): Ruddy; Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Olsson; Snodgrass, Fer, Johnson, Redmond; Hooper, Elmander (Van Wolfswinkel, 77).
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the match: Turner (Norwich)
Match rating: 4/10
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