Sunderland completed their escape from relegation when a 2-0 win at home to West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday ensured they’d be playing Premier League football next season.
First-half goals from Jack Colback and Fabio Borini saw Sunderland to their fourth successive win, a result that took the north-east side five points clear of the relegation zone ahead of Sunday’s final round of matches.
Victory for Gus Poyet’s men all but relegated Norwich, who have only a slim mathematical chance of not joining already-down Cardiff and Fulham in the second-tier Championship next season.
A few weeks earlier, Uruguayan manager Poyet said his side needed a “miracle” to stay up but that was achieved as the Black Cats won four Premier League matches in a row for the first time since December 2000.
“I don’t know if you will see something similar ever again,” Poyet told Sky Sports.
“We are the second team in the Premier League to be bottom at Christmas and stay up.
“With (wins over Manchester) City, Chelsea and United away from home, to be seven points away from safety and to do it with a game to spare is amazing.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult season. For moments it looked like we were going down.
“I will start believing in miracles from now on and it’s one of the best days of my life today.”
Midfielder Colback said: “After the Tottenham and Everton games everyone wrote us off but I think that helped us.
“To get the win tonight makes it feel good, I feel relief. It’s been a long, tough season.
“Gus Poyet has been brilliant since he came in. He is positive and gives us belief.
“We had spells where we struggled but we’ve managed to pull it out of the bag somehow.”
Colback gave Sunderland an 18th-minute lead when he turned Marcos Alonso’s near-post cross past goalkeeper Ben Foster.
And the Stadium of Light erupted with joy 18 minutes later when Borini volleyed in his ninth goal of the season.
Sunderland might even have had a third goal midway through the second half but substitute Jozy Altidore shot wide when well-placed as the hosts missed the chance to put the game beyond West Brom’s reach.
But Pepe Mel’s visitors were unable to capitalise on Altidore’s mistake.
Defeat meant the Midlands club were still not mathematically safe from the drop, although their vastly superior goal difference compared to that of relegation rivals Norwich should preserve their top-flight status.