Sam Allardyce celebrated a “huge” result for Sunderland after they grabbed a survival lifeline with a 3-0 win at relegation rivals Norwich.
Fabio Borini’s first-half penalty and second-half strikes from Jermain Defoe and Duncan Watmore left the Black Cats just a point from City, and safety, with a game in hand.
“It’s a huge moment for us, to come here and try to win this game,” said Sunderland boss Allardyce.
“Dealing with the pressure paid off. That was the key element to our victory because of the position we are in and because we were away from home.
“Our clinical finishing at the right time put the game to bed and our defending was superb. Everything was right. It’s a massive result and it gives us a lot more hope
“If we’d lost we’d have been seven points behind. Now it’s only one point, a better goal difference and a game in hand. If we can pick up some points next week, then we can rush in and see how everyone else has done.”
READ MORE: Talking points from Norwich 0 Sunderland 3
These two clubs play for the Friendship Trophy whenever they meet, a tradition stemming back from the 1985 League Cup final between the sides.
But there was nothing remotely amicable about this clash, with tempers boiling over virtually straight from the kick-off after Robbie Brady’s challenge sent DeAndre Yedlin head first into the advertising hoardings.
Players and staff from both sides squared up in front of the dug-out with Allardyce in the thick of it, shoving Norwich’s Jonny Howson and Cameron Jerome in ugly scenes which could land both clubs an FA charge.
“I got a bit carried away, but the Norwich players were encroaching my box – I was always going to protect my players and my mob,” added Allardyce, who also insisted he saw nothing untoward after the game amid rumours of a tunnel bust-up.
The breakthrough arrived four minutes before half-time when Andre Wisdom chopped down Borini in the area, allowing the Italian to tuck away the spot-kick.
Sunderland grabbed the second in the 53rd minute when Borini pinged a perfect low ball across goal and Defoe arrived at the far post to tuck away his 16th goal of the season.
City manager Alex Neil felt Sebastien Bassong had been fouled in the build-up, however, and also had his doubts about the penalty.
“I think you could argue the big decisions didn’t go in our favour,” he said.
The visitors wrapped up victory in stoppage time when Sebastian Larsson played in substitute Watmore for a simple finish.