The pressure increased on Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill as his side were left a point above the Premier League drop zone following defeat at Norwich.
The Canaries went two up when Sebastien Bassong forced in a shot and Anthony Pilkington scored with a low strike.
O'Neill regrets 'sloppy' defending
Craig Gardner pulled one back but the visitors then wasted a chance to level.
Gardner's free-kick hit the post and the ball fell to Matt Kilgallon, who shot over the bar from 10 yards out with an empty net in front of him.
Another Gardner shot was cleared off the goal-line by defender Javier Garrido and Canaries keeper Mark Bunn denied Stephane Sessegnon and Danny Rose as the home side held on for the win.
This was a fourth successive home victory for Norwich, following wins against Arsenal, Stoke and Manchester United, and their unbeaten run in the league now stands at eight games.
While Sunderland's defeat leaves them precariously placed, O'Neill will take heart from an improved second-half display ahead of testing fixtures against Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Simon BrothertonMatch of the Day commentator
"Sunderland did everything in the second half but they did not make the most of their chances. Norwich were the better side in the first half and Anthony Pilkington ended up getting the winner."
But the Black Cats boss will not want a repeat of the grim form they showed during the first half and which ultimately left a side with just two wins from 22 Premier League games with too much to do at Carrow Road.
It was little surprise when the visitors began with the lack of confidence and self-belief their poor form suggested, and Norwich were quick to capitalise.
Robert Snodgrass curled in a free-kick which was inadvertently flicked on by the arm of Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar before Bassong arrived at the far post to score from close range.
And, when Pilkington latched on to a Bradley Johnson pass to surge forward, cut inside Cuellar and drive in a low shot past keeper Simon Mignolet, O'Neill must have feared the worst.
Sunderland rarely looked like scoring, although they did get on the scoreboard when Gardner curled a low 18-yard shot past Bunn on the stroke of half-time.
The visitors came out rejuvenated after the break, with Connor Wickham replacing injured striker Steve Fletcher.
Cuellar mistimed an attempted shot from Sebastian Larsson's corner when well-placed before Kilgallon's glaring miss.
'Confidence' key to good Norwich form
Pilkington had a shot palmed away by Mignolet at the other end but Norwich were on the back foot for most of the second half.
Some last-ditch defending helped keep Sunderland at bay though, while keeper Bunn also played his part as he saved strikes from Sessegnon and Rose.
Norwich manager Chris Hughton:
"I thought we were excellent in the first half and it is difficult to sustain that over 90 minutes, particularly with it being the third game in a week.
"We haven't made any changes to the team so to sustain that for 90 minutes is tough and of course their goal gave them the lift they needed.
"It was a real tough shift in that second half so testament to the players, there were saves that needed to be made and bodies that needed to be in front of some balls and they did that."
Full Time The final whistle goes and the game is over.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stephane Sessegnon by Steven Whittaker. Strike comes in from Craig Gardner from the free kick, Mark Bunn makes a save.
Fraizer Campbell takes a shot.
Substitution Sebastian Larsson leaves the field to be replaced by David Vaughan.
Free kick crossed right-footed by Anthony Pilkington, Connor Wickham makes a clearance.
Substitution Jonathan Howson replaces Wesley Hoolahan.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Wesley Hoolahan by Danny Rose.
Substitution James McClean goes off and Fraizer Campbell comes on.
Danny Rose produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the goal.
Effort on goal by Grant Holt from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
Sebastien Bassong fouled by Connor Wickham, the ref awards a free kick. Mark Bunn takes the free kick.
Mark Bunn takes the free kick.
Substitution Elliott Bennett comes on in place of Robert Snodgrass.
Shot by Danny Rose. Simon Mignolet makes a save. The assistant referee flags for offside against Connor Wickham.
Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, Grant Holt makes a clearance.
Corner taken by Robert Snodgrass from the right by-line, clearance by Phil Bardsley.
Wesley Hoolahan has an effort at goal. Matthew Kilgallon gets a block in.
Foul by Craig Gardner on Alexander Tettey, free kick awarded. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Robert Snodgrass from right channel.
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line.
Effort on goal by Stephane Sessegnon from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.
Connor Wickham fouled by Sebastien Bassong, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Robert Snodgrass by Stephane Sessegnon. Free kick taken by Mark Bunn.
The referee blows for offside against Sebastien Bassong. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.
Wesley Hoolahan fouled by Sebastian Larsson, the ref awards a free kick. Robert Snodgrass crosses the ball in from the free kick.
Stephane Sessegnon has a drilled shot. Fantastic save by Mark Bunn.
Connor Wickham gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Robert Snodgrass. Mark Bunn restarts play with the free kick.
Craig Gardner takes a shot. Clearance by Javier Garrido.
Corner from the right by-line taken by Adam Johnson, clearance made by Mark Bunn.
Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Adam Johnson, Sebastien Bassong makes a clearance.
Foul by Alexander Tettey on Connor Wickham, free kick awarded. Danny Rose takes the direct free kick.
Robert Snodgrass crosses the ball in from the free kick.
Booking Phil Bardsley is booked.
Foul by Phil Bardsley on Wesley Hoolahan, free kick awarded.
Foul by Alexander Tettey on Connor Wickham, free kick awarded. Strike comes in from Craig Gardner from the free kick. Effort on goal by Matthew Kilgallon from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
Effort from 25 yards by Anthony Pilkington. Save made by Simon Mignolet.
Sebastian Larsson challenges Wesley Hoolahan unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Steven Whittaker.
The ball is crossed by Adam Johnson, clearance made by Ryan Bennett.
Grant Holt is ruled offside. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.
Connor Wickham gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ryan Bennett. Mark Bunn takes the free kick.
Sebastian Larsson takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Sebastien Bassong.
The offside flag is raised against Connor Wickham. Indirect free kick taken by Sebastien Bassong.
Grant Holt concedes a free kick for a foul on Matthew Kilgallon. Free kick taken by Danny Rose.
The assistant referee signals for offside against Grant Holt. Indirect free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.
Foul by Craig Gardner on Robert Snodgrass, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Mark Bunn.
The ball is swung over by Phil Bardsley, Sebastien Bassong makes a clearance.
The second half begins.
Substitution Connor Wickham joins the action as a substitute, replacing Steven Fletcher.
45:00 +2:21 Half time
Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.
The ball is crossed by Phil Bardsley, clearance made by Sebastien Bassong.
Unfair challenge on Robert Snodgrass by Sebastian Larsson results in a free kick. Wesley Hoolahan takes the free kick.
Adam Johnson provided the assist for the goal.
43:59 Goal scored
Goal! - Craig Gardner - Norwich 2 - 1 Sunderland Goal scored by Craig Gardner from just outside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Norwich 2-1 Sunderland.
Adam Johnson crosses the ball, save made by Mark Bunn.
Foul by Craig Gardner on Wesley Hoolahan, free kick awarded. Bradley Johnson takes the free kick.
Craig Gardner produces a left-footed shot from outside the penalty box and misses left.
The ball is sent over by Steven Whittaker, comfortable save by Simon Mignolet.
Assist by Bradley Johnson.
36:04 Goal scored
Goal! - Anthony Pilkington - Norwich 2 - 0 Sunderland Anthony Pilkington gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Norwich 2-0 Sunderland.
Steven Fletcher is penalised for a handball. Mark Bunn takes the direct free kick.
Bradley Johnson concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Fletcher. The ball is crossed by Adam Johnson, Header from deep inside the area by Matthew Kilgallon goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
Short corner worked by Sebastian Larsson. Shot by Danny Rose from 20 yards. Mark Bunn makes a comfortable save.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Bradley Johnson on Stephane Sessegnon. Simon Mignolet takes the direct free kick.
Alexander Tettey has an effort at goal from 30 yards. Blocked by Matthew Kilgallon.
Unfair challenge on Danny Rose by Robert Snodgrass results in a free kick. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.
Shot from long distance by Stephane Sessegnon misses to the right of the target.
Anthony Pilkington produces a cross, Matthew Kilgallon makes a clearance.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Carlos Cuellar by Grant Holt. Sebastian Larsson takes the direct free kick.
Steven Fletcher is caught offside. Free kick taken by Mark Bunn.
Shot from just outside the box by James McClean misses to the left of the goal.
Bradley Johnson challenges Stephane Sessegnon unfairly and gives away a free kick. Phil Bardsley takes the direct free kick.
The ball is crossed by Javier Garrido, Header on goal by Sebastien Bassong from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.
Short corner taken by Anthony Pilkington.
Ryan Bennett fouled by Steven Fletcher, the ref awards a free kick. Mark Bunn takes the direct free kick.
Stephane Sessegnon is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Mark Bunn.
Assist on the goal came from Bradley Johnson.
7:40 Goal scored
Goal! - Sebastien Bassong - Norwich 1 - 0 Sunderland Sebastien Bassong gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Norwich 1-0 Sunderland.
Unfair challenge on Steven Whittaker by Danny Rose results in a free kick. Robert Snodgrass sends in a cross,
Shot from just outside the box by Adam Johnson goes over the target.
The ball is delivered by Stephane Sessegnon, Steven Whittaker makes a clearance.
Ryan Bennett concedes a free kick for a foul on Danny Rose. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.
Free kick crossed right-footed by Anthony Pilkington, clearance by Carlos Cuellar.
Booking Booking for Matthew Kilgallon for unsporting behaviour.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Grant Holt by Matthew Kilgallon.
Craig Gardner challenges Grant Holt unfairly and gives away a free kick. Steven Whittaker takes the free kick.
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