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Johnson strikes late to condemn Newcastle to fourth straight derby defeat

Adam Johnson was the Grinch who stole Christmas from Newcastle fans.

Johnson celebrates with the away supporters.
Johnson celebrates with the away supporters.
Image: PA Images Contributor/Press Association Images

ADAM JOHNSON SCORED a dramatic 90th minute winner for Sunderland as they beat Newcastle United 1-0 and claim a third successive victory over their north-east rivals.

It was a high-tempo game in which both teams, especially Sunderland, missed a series of chances before Johnson settled it, starting and finished a sweeping move involving Steven Fletcher and Sebastien Larsson.

Until then, it looked certain to end in a stalemate, but Johnson relishes these occasions after scoring on Sunderland’s two previous visits, which both ended in 3-0 defeats for Newcastle.

This meeting was typically competitive derby, littered with yellow cards as referee Anthony Taylor tried to keep a grip on the game.

But, if there was little love lost on the pitch, both sets of supporters displayed a refreshing respect for each other.

Sunderland’s fans joined the 17th minute applause for the two Newcastle supporters who died in the MH17 plane crash, then the home fans responded similarly in the 33rd minute to mark the £33,000 raised in Sunderland in the wake of the tragedy.

By the end of the match, though, Sunderland fans were the ones making all the noise after a victory which came after their disruptive prelude to the match when left-back Anthony Reveillere strained a calf muscle during the warm-up.

He was replaced by Sebastien Coates, but it was not a straightforward change because John O’Shea had to switch to left-back to allow Coates to play in his normal position at the heart of the defence.

It did not get much better for Sunderland when the game began as Coates was booked within two minutes for a foul, adding to his concerns for the remaining 88.

Coates’s early foul on Ayoze Perez was only one of a number of abrasive challenges that brought three more cautions in the next 20 minutes. By the end, the yellow card count was seven.

Not surprisingly, Newcastle settled quicker than Poyet’s reshaped side, with Paul Dummett wasting two chances and Cheick Tiote put an excellent 14th minute opportunity straight at Costel Pantilimon.

When Sunderland did get a foothold in the game through Larsson and Lee Cattermole, they created far better openings and could have been ahead by the interval.

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Connor Wickham almost headed in at the far post after Newcastle’s third-choice keeper Jak Alnwick struggled to deal with Johnson’s 23rd minute free-kick.

Alnwick was more impressive when he dealt with two further efforts from Wickham later in the half, but Sunderland went closest to a breakthrough when Fletcher eluded Steven Taylor and steered Larsson’s cross against the bar in the 26th minute.

Taylor was the man who stood between Fletcher and a goal in the 50th minute when he beat the Scotland striker to Wickham’s cross, but also collided with a post and suffered a head wound.

Soccer - Barclays Premiere League - Newcastle United v Sunderland - St James' Park Steven Taylor receives attention after his collision. Source: Steve Drew/Press Association Images

While he was off the pitch having stitches, Sunderland should have capitalised through Jordi Gomez, but the Spaniard sliced his weak shot after being presented with a glorious chance by Fletcher.

Fortunate to be on level terms, Newcastle finally threatened a goal in the final third of the game.

Only a fine save by Pantilimon stopped Perez steering a shot into the top corner after 63 minutes and the keeper also coped well with a shot from substitute Adam Armstrong.

Perez and Moussa Sissoko also failed to accept opportunities and Johnson was profligate with a good chance before he settled it stylishly and prevented this derby ending goalless for the first time in 24 years.

- © AFP, 2014

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