Norwich extended their Premier League unbeaten run to eight games as they beat Sunderland 2-1 at Carrow Road.
Goals from Sebastien Bassong and Anthony Pilkington but Norwich in control before Craig Gardner pulled one back just before half-time.
The first half contained all the goals and the second half all the action, but Norwich repelled heavy Sunderland pressure.
Matthew Kilgallon and Stephane Sessegnon were guilty of bad misses - the former firing over when presented with an open goal, the latter shooting straight at Mark Bunn after racing clean through.
Injuries to Lee Cattermole and John O'Shea meant Phil Bardsley wore the Sunderland captain's armband.
O'Shea in particular was missed as his deputy Kilgallon endured a torrid afternoon.
The centre-back was booked in the third minute and might have conceded a penalty shortly afterwards but his tug on Grant Holt went unseen.
Meanwhile, Norwich took the lead in controversial circumstances in the eighth minute.
A Robert Snodgrass free-kick looped up via Bradley Johnson and the arm of Carlos Cuellar, and Basson finished from close range.
The defender should have been flagged for offside, though none of the officials had a clear sight of the incident - in any case, Norwich had competing claims for a penalty against Cuellar.
The game ambled along with neither side able to attack with much incision, until Pilkington made it two in the 37th minute.
Bradley Johnson played a fin pass down the left channel that Pilkington - played onside by Kilgallon - collected before cutting inside Cuellar and firing into the bottom right corner.
It looked like game over for Sunderland, who have not beaten a team with 11 men since March, but Gardner gave them hope on the brink of half-time when he met Adam Johnson's lay-off with a fine left-foot strike that curved away from Mark Bunn and found the bottom-right corner.
Martin O'Neill's side have just two Premier League wins to themselves and produced arguably their best football of the season after the break.
Carlos Cuellar saw a volley blocked from a corner as the visitors turned the screw but could not find a way through.
Just before the hour mark, Craig Gardner hit the post with a magnificent free-kick and the rebound fell to Kilgallon who could not get the ball under control and clunked his shot over with the goal at his mercy.
Shortly afterwards Danny Rose found Sessegnon with a fine pass but the forward could not beat Bunn despite being played clean through.
Norwich go 12th in the Premier League. Sunderland stay 17th, a point clear of the relegation zone.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Anthony Pilkington (Norwich City): Fresh off scoring the winning goal against Manchester United, the midfielder produced another fine performance and is clearly brimming with confidence.
NORWICH CITY: Bunn 8; Garrido 7, Bassong 7, R. Bennett 7, Whittaker 7; Pilkington 8, Johnson 6, Tettey 7, Snodgrass 6; Hoolahan 7; Holt 5... Subs: Howson N/A, E. Bennett N/A.
SUNDERLAND: Mignolet 6, Bardsley 6, Rosen 6, Larsson 7, Gardner 7, Kilgallon 5, Johnson 7, McClean 7, Cuellar 6, Fletcher 6, Sessegnon 7... Subs: Campbell N/A, Wickham 7, Vaughan N/A
- Sports & Recreation
- Anthony Pilkington
- Craig Gardner
- Premier League
- Matthew Kilgallon