Newcastle United 2 Sunderland 0: Keegan savours atmosphere of Newcastle revival

Those who remain sceptical about the messianic powers attributed to Kevin Keegan on Tyneside should have been at St James' Park yesterday. Despite Newcastle United delivering their most ordinary performance since the turnaround instigated at Birmingham five weeks ago, a serenaded Keegan still sent fans home delirious after a cosy derby-day victory over neighbours Sunderland. It wasn't water into wine stuff, but it was intoxicating and it had the club's owner, Mike Ashley, dancing in the directors' box in his "King Kev" jersey at the end.

Perhaps the only man happier than Ashley was Keegan himself. Towards the final whistle of a contest neutered by Michael Owen's sweet fourth-minute header and Sunderland's inability to threaten seriously, the volume at St James' rose and Keegan could be seen alone on the touchline drinking it all in.

"Five minutes before the end Terry Mac [Keegan's assistant] turned to me and said: 'It's like the old times, gaffer," Keegan revealed. "You don't get an atmosphere like that anywhere else in the world – not at the Nep Stadium in Hungary, not at the Maracana, Liverpool, Boca Juniors. I've told the players it used to be like that before kick-off."

This was an exaggeration but Keegan is entitled to his rhapsody. Newcastle, safe from relegation, feel stable, so his primary task on succeeding Sam Allardyce has been completed. He accepted the respect for that but, Keegan being Keegan, added: "More important, today was to give our fans something to believe in, for next season." He joked that Ashley told him there was £250m "at least" to spend in the summer.

There was more accuracy when Keegan discussed Newcastle's contribution. "We never really played well but we got the early goal and then the penalty just before half-time. I said to the players at half-time that we're about 50-60 per cent of what we could be. I said: 'You could go on and win this in style.' But we couldn't."

This was the most damning verdict on Sunderland. Admittedly, their manager, Roy Keane, lost defenders Jonny Evans and Phil Bardsley to injury. Their replacements, Danny Higginbotham and Paul McShane, were involved in both goals. McShane was static as Owen nipped in to direct a firm header from Geremi's inviting cross beyond Craig Gordon, while Higginbotham was judged to have handled the ball when challenging Owen seconds before the interval.

"It certainly didn't help but all teams lose players," Keane said. He described both Evans and Bardsley as "50-50" for Saturday's game with Middlesbrough.

Sunderland will need to bring more to that North-east party than they brought to this. Only Nyron Nosworthy could reflect with even mild satisfaction. Liam Miller, still on the transfer list, was recalled after his lateness episode and improved as the game went on. However, his weak pass led to the penalty after an interception by Owen.

Owen, in front of Fabio Capello's assistant, Franco Baldini, gave it to the impressive Habib Beye, and then Owen and Mark Viduka produced a one-two that provoked Higginbotham's lunge. Owen's spot-kick just about squeezed under Gordon. But it was game over.

Keane felt Kenwyne Jones was not isolated but the ploy of playing Andy Reid in the hole did not convince. Reid's touch was as subtle as usual but Jones was arm-waving at the lack of support. When it was put to Keane that Jones had played "manfully", Keane replied: "He did OK."

Jones' solitary chance came in the 68th minute when he met Miller's cross with a firm header. Steve Harper made his only save.

Seconds before, Gordon had saved from Obafemi Martins. The Nigerian was then withdrawn and looked none too happy.

The contrast was with Owen, who now has six goals in six games, who led the cheerleading and who, with contract talks planned, said: "I'm very happy here. If everything that Kevin Keegan wishes for comes true, then there will be a really bright future."

Goals: Owen (4) 1-0; Owen pen (45) 2-0.

Newcastle United (4-3-3) Harper; Beye, Taylor, Faye, Enrique (Edgar, 87); Geremi, Butt, Barton; Viduka (Carroll, 76), Owen, Martins (Duff, 71). Substitutes not used: Forster, Edgar, Smith, Duff, Carroll.

Sunderland (4-4-1-1) Gordon; McShane (Harte, 87), Nosworthy, Higginbotham, Collins; Edwards (Richardson, 58), Miller, Whitehead, Murphy (Chopra, 80); Reid; Jones. Substitutes not used: Fulop, Harte, Leadbitter, Chopra.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: Sunderland Whitehead, Murphy, Miller, Reid, Nosworthy

Man of the match: Taylor.

Attendance: 52,305.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

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

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album