SUNDERLAND paid the price for failing to capitalise on their first-half dominance when they went down to a second-half sucker-punch at a full-house Stadium of Light this afternoon, writes Graeme Anderson.
Magpie full-back Ryan Taylor scored the only goal of the game in the 62nd minute when he drove a free-kick from the left into the far corner of Simon Mignolet’s goal after the keeper stranded himself in no-man’s land.
And on a day of deep disappointments for the Black Cats, Phil Bardsley was sent off for a second bookable offence in the dying stages of a game in which the home team flattered to deceive.
Sunderland started the game impressively dominating possession and play but they rarely extended Newcastle keeper Tim Krul.
The Dutchman had only one real save to make and that was when Stephane Sessegnon’s fine shot midway through the first-half was parried out for a corner. Other than that, Sunderland’s only real threat came on the stroke of half-time when Asamoah Gyan’s curling shot struck the crossbar.
By then, Sunderland could have been a goal and a man down had Howard Webb not been lenient when Joey Barton’s close-range header on the line was handled by Seb Larsson.
Ultimately it made little though.
Sunderland ran out of steam and ideas in the second-half and home fans had to endure an agonising final half hour as their toothless team laboured horribly.
Needless to say, Sunderland fans were utterly deflated at the final whistle.
And even if the season picks up from here, Newcastle have the bragging rights for the forseeable future. It is a long, long time before the teams meet again, next March.
* Full report, reaction and pictures in tonight’s Football Echo