ADAM Johnson condemned Newcastle United to an unprecedented fourth successive derby defeat this afternoon.
Johnson’s dramatic 90th minute strike gave Sunderland a 1-0 win at St James’s Park in the 151st Tyne-Wear derby.
Newcastle made the early running in a fiercely-contested game, but Sunderland went on to dominate the first half.
However, United fought back strongly after the break, and Sunderland had to defend deep in numbers against a team which included half a dozen Geordies after Adam Armstrong’s introduction off the bench.
But the breakthrough was to come at the other end of the pitch.
Sunderland broke quickly upfield after defending a corner, and boyhood Newcastle fan Johnson beat goalkeeper Jak Alnwick from 10 yards to decide the game.
There was also seven bookings, but somehow the match ended with 22 players till on the pitch.
United manager Alan Pardew brought Cheik Tiote, Steven Taylor, Daryl Janmaat and Sammy Ameobi back into his starting XI, while Gus Poyet, his counterpart, opted to start Steven Fletcher up front ahead of Jozy Altidore.
But Poyet lost Emmanuel Riviere to an injury in the warm-up, and he was replaced by Sebastian Coates in Sunderland’s starting XI.
Lee Cattermole set the tone with a crude challenge on Janmaat with just 18 seconds on the clock, but Newcastle couldn’t capitalise on the set-piece.
Coates was booked for bringing down Ayoze Perez in a dangerous position on the edge of the box. Defender Paul Dummett’s free-kick, however, was high and wide of Costel Pantilimon’s goal.
Newcastle captain followed Coates into referee Anthony Taylor’s book for a clumsy challenge on Conor Wickham which left the striker clutching his back.
The tackle, just yards from the Sunderland bench, enraged Poyet. Wickham was able to continue after treatment.
Poyet’s side, having been on the back foot for much of the first 15 minutes, started to impose themselves on United as the half wore on.
There was applause from both sets of fans in the 17th minute in memory Newcastle supporters John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who lost their lives on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July.
Wickham headed a Sebastien Larsson free-kick wide of goal at the far post in the 22nd minute.
The striker should have hit the target – and he knew it.
Jack Colback and Tiote followed Coloccini into the book before Steven Fletcher struck the crossbar from a Larsson ball, with Sunderland having overcome their difficult to start to take control of the game.
Alnwick got his fingertips to a long-range shot from Wickham in the 30th minute.
Perez – who had drifted out of the game – gave United some respite with a shot which flashed just wide of goal five minutes later, and Alnwick gathered a shot from Wickham at the other end.
Wickham was booked for a late challenge on Alnwick before the break.
Pardew will have been happy to get his team into the dressing room for the half-time break with the score still goalless.
Neither manager made a change at the interval.
Taylor needed treatment after colliding with the post after heading a Wickham ball off the line under pressure from Fletcher, and the defender had to leave the field to get a head wound stitched.
Jordi Gomez, set up by Fletcher, missed a sitter while Taylor was off the field.
Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole was booked for a late challenge on Perez before Taylor returned to the field, and Pardew replaced Gouffran with 17-year-old Armstrong in the 59th minute.
Armstrong took the number of Geordies in Newcastle’s team up to six, and Sunderland had Pantilimon to thank for a fingertip save from Perez just past the hour-mark.
United were livelier than they had been before the break, but they struggled to get something on the chances they were creating.
And Pardew sent Papiss Demba Cisse out to warm up, and Armstrong forced a save from Pantilimon after Moussa Sissoko, having more of an influence on the game, slipped him through.
Cisse came on for Tiote in the 75th minute in a bold move from Pardew.
Johnson put a chance wide of Alnwick’s goal in the 77th minute, and Cisse couldn’t connect with a delivery from Armstrong.
Poyet replaced Wickham with Will Buckley in the 81st minute, and Remy Cabella was a late substitute for Newcastle.
Sunderland’s breakthrough came in the last minute of normal time. They quickly broke upfield after defending a corner, and Johnson kept his composure to squeeze a left-foot shot between Alnwick and his left-hand post.
The goal sparked wild celebrations among the 2,700 travelling fans, who had seen their side spent much of the second half on the back foot.
And there was to be no way back for United.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Alnwick; Janmaat, Coloccini, S Taylor, Dummett; Sissoko, Colback, Tiote (Cisse, 75); Gouffran (Armstrong, 59), Perez, Ameobi (Cabella, 89). Subs not used: Woodman, Haidara, Williamson, Riviere.
SUNDERLAND: Pantilimon, Vergini, Coates, O’Shea, Brown, Cattermole (Bridcutt, 70), Larsson, Gomez, Johnson (Rodwell, 90), Wickham (Buckley, 81), Fletcher. Subs not used: Altidore, Alvarez, Mannone.
Goal: Johnson 90
Bookings: Coates 2, Coloccini 9, Tiote 24, Colback 25, Wickham 39, Cattermole 56, O’Shea 69
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe)