A draw may not be the best way to settle a derby, especially the Tyne-Wear derby.
Nicklas Bendtner returned to help lift Sunderland after their last two loss, notably a 4-0 hammering at WBA last week. Alan Pardew named an unchanged side that drew Wolves last game which meant Ben Arfa continued to stay on the bench in favor of the Senegal strikers. A win for Newcastle would have leveled them on points with Chelsea after their loss against WBA last night.
It was a nervous start for Sunderland captain Cattermole. 20 seconds into the match, he hesitated with possession inside his own half before being robbed by Cisse. 16 seconds later his first tackle, a sliding challenge on Tiote, got himself in Mike Dean’s book and it was not wise to be cautioned so so early in the game.
The Sports Direct Arena erupted in the 17th minute when McClean slid on Simpson near the byline and the Newcastle defender’s fury was quickly echoed by his keeper Krul and within seconds both teams gathered to separate the players. Both Simpson and McClean were cautioned and that was, surprisingly, the only derby-ish flash point of the match.
It was a bright start for Newcastle nonetheless with Gutierrez and Santon constantly putting pressure on Bardsley. However things turned around in the 23rd minute when Williamson pulled Turner down into the box as Richardson swung in a freekick. Bendtner scored the ensuing spot kick and his 4th goal of the season gave Sunderland an unexpected lead. The Dane also had another chance minutes later when he chested down a long ball inside the congested Newcastle penalty area and managed to get a half-volley though not enough to beat Krul again.
A Ryan Taylor corner found Coloccini at the far post and his header was pushed away but Mignolet and moments later it was lead scorer Demba Ba who flicked another Taylor corner against the crossbar. It was the full back once again before the end of the first half but his 30-yard free kick sailed harmlessly over the bar.
Ben Arfa became a match-changing substitution when he was brought on at half time for Santon, moving Taylor back to left back, and had heralded Richardson’s nightmare. It was total Newcastle domination right after the whistle but it was Tim Krul who settled the nerves as he made a fantastic double save to deny Larsson and McClean as Sunderland countered at the 56th minute.
While O’Neil’s men couldn’t double their lead, it was a switch of fortune a minute later as their in-form forward Sessegnon was shown a straight red card as he appeared to have elbowed Tiote when crowded by Newcastle players. It had, as O’Neil said, definitely changed the game.
Tiote finally picked up his yellow card after pushing his opposite number Cattermole over with Mike Dean having no other option but to halt his constant fouls. Yet he had much less to deal with as Newcastle pretty much took control of the derby playing with one more player.
In the 71st minute, ‘Shola the Mackem Slayer’ was brought on for the rather ineffective Cisse while Fraizer Campbell also came on for on-loan Gunner Bendtner. Colback was introduced minutes later as O’Neil hope to increase his team’s work rate to compensate the insufficient manpower.
It was a lively second half for Newcastle, especially to French winger Ben Arfa as he dazzled on the right flank leaving Richardson clueless at times and only the Sunderland keeper was left to beat as he went past between McClean and Richardson from the flank and unleashed a powerful shot at the near post.
Ben Arfa was again creating trouble on the right wing as he nutmegged Richardson and thrusted into the box but was outmuscled by McClean, who was often backtracking to double up on Ben Arfa, and Mike Dean was lenient not to caution the winger for diving.
On the opposite flank however, substitute Campbell gave Mike Dean an easy decision as he recklessly tripped Ameobi with a sliding tackle. The Magpies’ no. 9 was the man to execute the spot kick but Mignolet once again managed to keep his clean sheet as Newcastle missed their first penalty of the season.
Just when the Mackems thought they have avenged their last derby (home loss in August), Newcastle took late advantage of what might be the only lapse in concentration from the Sunderland defence in the match to snatch a late winner. Cabaye’s long ball found an unmarked Williamson in 12 yards out and no one was able to pick out Ameobi’s run as he latched onto his flick to score his 7th goal in 12 games against Sunderland from close range.
Martin O’Neil would have thought he lost the tie.
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