Match Report: Sunderland's Martin O'Neill saves face after Fabricio Coloccini's late exit holes 10-man Newcastle heroics

Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 1

Stadium of Light

So much hatred, so much bile, so much police preparation, and yet ultimately it was all decided by one player leaving the pitch before he had planned.

Much will be made of the dismissal of Cheick Tioté so early in a derby that never matched its build up. The player himself deserves a significant apportionment of blame for that. His wild lunge, when barely a quarter of the contest had passed, was reckless, dangerous and the injury to Steven Fletcher could have been more severe. There was surprise at the red card but not fury, as his manager Alan Pardew, in his acceptance afterwards, was testimony to. Referee Martin Atkinson at times proved inconsistent for such a tribal collision, but the call was correct and it dictated that Newcastle could not play the expansive game which, on yesterday's showing, would have been too much for their hosts. It certainly had been before he went off.

Tioté's removal was not, however, why Sunderland scrambled a fortuitous point. It was because a player who had stood out, left the field with cramp five minutes before it was scored.

Fabricio Coloccini had played 61 minutes of football in the previous seven weeks before he led his side out yesterday. That made what followed even more remarkable. Coloccini was untouchable. He dominated Fletcher to the point where the Scot, who has been the only Sunderland player to score in the Premier League this season, was barely relevant.

Coloccini marshalled and outmanoeuvred everything the numerically superior Sunderland could muster. Pardew was gushing in his praise afterwards for his captain, and with good reason. There was a comparison to Bobby Moore. Coloccini was that good.

From the 25th minute, when Tioté was dismissed, to the 80th minute, when Newcastle's captain was finally forced to leave the field as both legs seized up, Sunderland did not directly test goalkeeper Tim Krul, who was also returning after a period of inactivity (he had missed seven games with an elbow injury), with a shot.

Instead, there was only a brief intake of breath from the travelling Newcastle support, housed in the upper tier of the North Stand for the first time, when Krul fumbled a cross from James McClean in front of them. Even then the Newcastle keeper collected at the second attempt, and he did so with support from his defenders.

The decision to partner Coloccini with Mike Williamson had raised eyebrows, but the latter too was colossal at the heart of the Newcastle defence. There were key elements to this game and they boiled down to the quality Pardew had spoken of beforehand, and the issue that Steven Taylor had screamed in Saturday's papers.

Martin O'Neill admitted afterwards that his players were annoyed when they read they would not make the Newcastle starting XI, (nor did Taylor as it turned out), but there was a collective failure to respond to the assertion when the greatest opportunity, the match itself, was presented to them. If Taylor's crass argument was meant to focus on the gap in ability between the two sides, then yesterday's game suggested he was ultimately correct. He will have a long time to reflect on whether his timing was right, or whether he should have spoken about such an inflammable topic.

However, Sunderland's supporters, understandably outraged, took hatred to a new level with the song that rang around the Stadium of Light throughout the game. "We wish you were dead," they repeatedly shouted. Pardew looked stunned when he was told of the chant's words. O'Neill spoke of his disappointment. It did not paint this game in a good light, but then neither did the barriers of steel that had been erected sporadically around the ground to keep supporters apart.

Sunderland's infield resistance proved far less secure. Newcastle had a corner in the first minute and a goal in the third. The triumvirate involved in it played at a higher level throughout the afternoon. Danny Rose's weak pass on the Sunderland left started the opportunity and from there Hatem Ben Arfa strode down the right, slid his pass forward to Demba Ba. The angle was tight but the shot still required a save with his feet from Simon Mignolet. The ball fell into the path of Yohan Cabaye, and retaining his composure, the France international swept his shot into the bottom corner of the Sunderland goal. Newcastle had the start Pardew had craved. It deflated home players and home fans. In the 21st minute Cabaye, growing in confidence, shot for goal from 30 yards from a free-kick. Mignolet scrambled it over the crossbar.

But then Tioté was sent off in the 25th minute. It did not matter that he had been fouled by Jack Colback as he went for the ball, and that Atkinson had given the free-kick, his kick, with the game still to stop, was wild and it caught Fletcher. The red card changed the whole context. Shola Ameobi, who had been preferred to Papiss Cissé, was taken off in the 39th minute. James Perch and Cabaye worked manfully at the heart of the Newcastle midfield, and Sunderland, as their manager admitted afterwards, never made full use of the extra man, their approach play predictable and the end product laboured.

Pardew claimed it would have been one of the greatest derby victories ever if his side had held on. That was well on its way to happening until Coloccini went down and then, two minutes later, could no longer carry on. There is too much irony that Newcastle were significantly weaker through his absence, and the introduction of his replacement, in the shape of Taylor.

Newcastle became nervous, defending deep, Sunderland summoned a final burst of energy. When Seb Larsson flung over a late free-kick, this time there was no Coloccini to head clear. In his absence John O'Shea won a header he would not have and the ball cruelly ricocheted into the Newcastle goal off Ba's head. O'Neill's overwhelming emotion was relief. Justifiably so.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Match facts

Sunderland: MIGNOLET 7/10, GARDNER 7, O’SHEA 6, CUELLAR 6, ROSE 8, JOHNSON 5, LARSSON 6, COLBACK 7, McCLEAN 5, SESSEGNON 4, FLETCHER 6

Newcastle: KRUL 7, SANTON 6, COLOCCINI 9, WILLIAMSON 8, SIMPSON 6, GUTIERREZ 7, TIOTE 3, CABAYE 8, BEN ARFA 8, SHOLA AMEOBI 7, BA 8

Goals: Sunderland: Ba 86 og. Newcastle:

Subs: Sunderland Saha 5 (Sessegnon, 64), Vaughan (Johnson, 83). Newcastle Perch 7 (Shola Ameobi, 38), S Taylor (Coloccini, 79), Obertan (Ben Arfa, 83).

Booked: Newcastle Shola Ameobi, Coloccini, Williamson, Cabaye. Sent off: Newcastle Tioté (25).  Man of the match Coloccini. Match rating 6/10. Poss: Sund 51%. New 49%. Attempts on target: Sunderland 6. Newcastle 7. Ref M Atkinson (West Yorks). Att 47,456.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor