DERBY HERO Adam Johnson says Sunderland have made it a “special” Christmas after taking their place in the history books.
Johnson’s last-minute winner secured a record fourth successive victory over Newcastle United at St James’s Park yesterday, as Sunderland emerged triumphant in an absorbing Tyne-Wear derby tussle.
The Easington-born winger has proved to be Newcastle’s nemesis over the last three years after netting in each of Sunderland’s three straight victories on Tyneside.
But Johnson says yesterday’s winner may top the lot, as Gus Poyet’s men ended their pattern of draws to secure their place in derby folklore just four days before Christmas.
Johnson told the Echo: “It’s great to win four in a row.
“I’ve done well at St James’s in recent years and yesterday was a great highlight. Whatever happens now, we’re in the history books as the team who did it.
“I’m not sure how many more times that will happen four times in a row.
“We’ve given the fans something to make their Christmas even more special!
“It’s been coming, I think. We’ve played quite well in games, but just don’t seem to have won them or struggled to score goals.
“But you only need one and we did that.”
Johnson had earlier been one of the culprits in front of goal, as Sunderland spurned several golden opportunities, with the England international, Jordi Gomez and Connor Wickham all firing wide of the mark.
But in a final 30 minutes when one goal always looked like it would be sufficient to take the derby spoils, Johnson started and finished the move which saw Sunderland grab a dramatic late victory.
“To be honest, the chance I missed I should have scored,” said Johnson.
“We had so many opportunities to kill the game; hit the bar. But we stuck with it and luckily I got another chance and put it away.
“It was a little bit end-to-end in the second half and they pushed their attacking players on, but I thought we always looked a threat on the counter-attack.
“Newcastle had had a tough week with a young keeper in goal.
“We tried to put him under pressure and I think we were quietly confident going into the game, thinking we could win again.”
Sunderland’s victory was all the more impressive given left-back Anthony Reveillere was forced to pull out in the warm-up with a serious-looking ankle injury.
With on-loan Liverpool centre-half Sebastian Coates the only defender on the bench, head coach Poyet was forced into a reshuffle with skipper John O’Shea moving to left-back.
“It made it difficult with Anthony pulling out,” added Johnson. “I don’t think Sheasy has played there for 10 years!
“But they didn’t cut us open as much as they’d have liked and we looked solid.”