Tuesday 20 February 2018

Sunderland make it six out of six as Newcastle cry foul

Sunderland 3-0 Newcastle Utd

Sunderland's Adam Johnson ran the length of the field to celebrate putting away a penalty, waving his arms in front of the Newcastle fans
Sunderland's Adam Johnson ran the length of the field to celebrate putting away a penalty, waving his arms in front of the Newcastle fans
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has started his tenure at the club promisingly
Steven Fletcher scores the third goal for Sunderland
Sunderland's John O'Shea is treated for a hamstring injury before being brought off the field

Martin Hardy

It sounded like a hiss. "Seeex in a row, seeex in a row," came the chant. The arms in the air were of those from Wearside.

Six fingers were being held up and they were being pointed at the 3,000 Newcastle fans, stood bewildered, out of love with life, never mind football or their team.

History tells us this will never happen again. That one team in the tribal fight will never have this kind of dominance in the North East of England again. Neither team had ever beaten the other six times on the trot before.

In 2007, on November 10, Newcastle were in control of the region. They had won five successively, but when they travelled to the Stadium of Light, under their new manager, Sam Allardyce, they could not win. They could not write that final chapter.

Sunderland did yesterday, with Allardyce this time in the home dugout, so happy with life that in the 92nd minute, when the victorious "Olés" that greeted every time the home side touched the ball had changed to "Big Sam give us a wave", he struck his right arm into the air as if he was royalty. All he needed was a white glove.

Forty four thousand people raised the decibel level in acknowledgement.

Sunderland had won for the sixth time in a row against Newcastle - a run that started on April 14, 2013, when Newcastle surrendered under Alan Pardew. Paolo di Canio slid on his knees at St James' Park, and Tyneside imploded with rage.

Newcastle fans no longer know where to point their anger. Their side hasn't played as well in a derby as they did yesterday for years.

Yet it was a game that, for all the hatred, the anger, the helicopters flying over Tyneside at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning, boiled down to the very finest of detail, such a fine margin that was lost to most in the maelstrom of delirium and deep despair.

Did Steven Fletcher have an obvious goalscoring opportunity? It was the day's defining question. In uncertainty came the most subtle of answers. Steve McClaren was adamant. "No," he said. "No."

This game spun so quickly in the 45th minute that it was hard to keep up, never mind keep track.

Newcastle were completely in control. Allardyce, even in victory, spoke of his concern. He is not usually bothered by the possession statistic, but it stood at 70-30 to Newcastle.

Sunderland's new manager acclaimed the importance of Costel Pantilimon, whose best save came in the opening stages, when Sunderland could not get out of their half, when he tipped away a Fabricio Coloccini shot in the fourth minute.

It would not be Coloccini's most notable contribution of the afternoon. That come in the moments that followed Georginio Wijnaldum's attempted spin on Lee Cattermole, just inside the Sunderland penalty area, in the 45th minute.

The ball appeared to clip Cattermole on the arm and there was a hint of a block with his other arm. It would have been a harsh call, even though Graeme Souness (like McClaren) thought it should have been a penalty.

It wasn't and Sunderland broke. Jermain Defoe, on because of a calf injury to Ola Toivonen, played in Fletcher. Rob Elliot, the third-choice Newcastle goalkeeper came and stopped. The indecision would prove catastrophic.

Coloccini had lost a yard on Fletcher and, in the belated attempt to shield the ball back to his goalkeeper, he pushed the Scottish forward, who tumbled, with arms, leg and beard flailing.

Referee Robert Madley blew immediately for a penalty, and then he changed the game by brandishing a red card at the Newcastle captain.

McClaren boiled in and out of his technical area. Coloccini would initially not leave the field.


Adam Johnson calmly drilled a fine penalty into the bottom corner and ran the length of the field to celebrate, waving his arms in front of the Newcastle fans. The mood of a stadium changed dramatically.

Newcastle did not wilt. Indeed, in the 55th minute Aleksandar Mitrovic cut in and was denied by a good Pantilimon save. It was another key moment.

Ten minutes later Johnson took a corner from the right, the unmarked Yann M'Vila volleyed the ball back towards goal and Billy Jones forced home the second.

Sunderland's third came in the closing moments from a sweeping counter-attack after Moussa Sissoko had lost possession as Newcastle pressed. Younes Kaboul ended up on the left wing and his cross was met sweetly at the far post by Fletcher, who volleyed the ball past Elliot. Ten-man Newcastle had 61 per cent of possession, 21 shots on goal and 10 corners, but still suffered a sixth successive derby defeat.

A delighted Allardyce said afterwards: "I think that we've taken full advantage of a piece of good fortune.

"I thought it was a foul, because I thought if he hadn't made contact with him, Steven would have scored.

"It's a bit harsh sending him off, but sadly that's the rules."

Independent News Service

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