Norwich City are now eight games unbeaten in the Premier League after beating Sunderland 2-1 at Carrow Road.
Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill may feel his side deserved a point as they spurned several opportunities in an improved second half showing.
But he will now be increasingly worried about his side’s proximity to the Premier League relegation zone as they sit 17th, just one point ahead of Southampton.
Sunderland attempted to hit back straight away but James Mcclean, who has failed to hit the heights of last season, fluffed an ambitious overhead kick, while Stephane Sessegnon hammered wide from long range.
Chris Hughton’s men capitalised on the Black Cats’ profligacy and Anthony Pilkington, after being slid through on goal by Bradley Johnson, cut inside in the penalty area and fired a strike in to the far corner from 12-yards.
Matt Kilgallon had a glorious chance to equalise after the break but when Gardner’s free-kick hit the post he put his shot well over the bar with the goal gaping and then Connor Wickham saw a strike ruled out for offside with 15 minutes to go.
And in the end Norwich were able to hold out and claim their third win in six, moving them up to 12th in the division.