Newcastle vs Sunderland match report: It's the most wonderful Tyne of the Wear for Sunderland after Adam Johnson winner

Newcastle 0 Sunderland 1

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The Independent Football

St James’ Park had emptied, bar the 3,000 Sunderland fans having the time of their, and their ancestors’, lives when the players they had followed across the bridges to Tyneside re-emerged onto the pitch.

There was no need for the half-hearted warmdown they went through. The red-and-white shirts they had worn triumphantly as they created history, after 116 years of fierce rivalry, had been ditched, sweat-soaked.

Instead, when the roar came up and they linked arms, rather than spirits, Sunderland’s players were wearing red club training tops. The collective jog got quicker as they ran towards those  supporters, high up in level seven of the Leazes End.

Then they were diving, together, across the penalty area, and the noise of celebration will have sounded like a looming thunderstorm  to those Newcastle fans miserably shuffling down  Barrack Road.

There is no hiding place for them now, not in any corner of the North-east. Their club has failed them.

Never before have those players wearing the Newcastle shirt been beaten in four successive derbies to Sunderland. Never before has a Newcastle manager walked down the tunnel with such unquestionable failure ringing around his head.

This was Alan Pardew’s fourth successive loss to Sunderland. In the eight games he has been in control of Newcastle in this fixture, they have won one and conceded 12 goals and they have never scored more than once.

It is a pitiful record.

They were second best yesterday, by a slim margin admittedly, which was why the one-goal deficit was just about right. The emotions were all there yesterday: hatred still – despite a softer approach from the police – desire and empathy even. But, in that cauldron, Sunderland were better at being in control.

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Steven Taylor receives treatment after connecting with the post

For the opening 10 minutes of the game there was real fervour, chances and wild tackles – and, for that period only, Gus Poyet jumped and span like the atmosphere was heating up his trainers. By the time the subtlety of Jordi Gomez and Seb Larsson had outmatched the brawn of Cheick Tioté and Jack Colback – both booked within the first half-hour – the Sunderland manager was calm, smug almost, because he knew then the chances would come the way of his side.

Connor Wickham was a problem Newcastle could not solve. He should have scored, perhaps as many as three times, the closest of which saw Jak Alnwick finger-tip a 25-yard drive to safety.

That he did not even have Sunderland’s best chance said much. That came in the 27th minute when Larsson crossed deep from the right to dissect Newcastle’s two central defenders, and the outstanding Steven Fletcher struck a volley that hit the crossbar.

Newcastle had little in response, aside from a fine effort from their best player Ayoze Perez, who shot  narrowly wide, and a litany of fouls.

The home side were better in the second half, but even within that they did not have the kind of clearcut opportunity that Gomez missed in the 54th minute, with the goal at his mercy, or when Adam Johnson cut back inside Fabricio Coloccini in the 77th minute and repeated his team-mate’s error.

It remained a hugely significant moment, however, because seconds earlier Poyet was telling the fourth official that Johnson was coming off and Will Buckley was going on. “Just wait,” he said to his backroom staff after the miss. It was a huge call to keep him on. “For some reason I didn’t take him off,” he said. “I don’t know why.”

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Adam Johnson strikes his late winner at St James' Park

Newcastle had their three best chances in the second half. Costel Pantilimon did superbly to tip over a Perez shot, he stood tall to deny Adam Armstrong and then, in the 89th minute, he excelled to tip over a Moussa Sissoko long-range drive.

It was a massive save.

Within 30 seconds Johnson set off on a run into the record books. Paul Dummett attempted to foul him but he failed. Fletcher peeled away and Johnson found him. The ball was played to the right to Buckley and then back inside and, for the third time in the last three of these fixtures on this ground, Johnson crashed a shot into the home goal.

“It was incredible and it is a special moment for the club,” added Poyet. “It is great that we are able to continue this run against Newcastle.”

Pardew, the first Newcastle manager to be defeated in four straight Tyne-Wear derbies, said: “Of course, you don’t want that. It’s a title that will stick on me now. I will have to wear it.”

Newcastle have been wanton with the club’s history for years; the changing of the name of the stadium, and the treatment of Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer, giant men in its past. Finally, under Mike Ashley, they have written their own chapter. That it is inglorious failure seems hugely fitting.

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