Graeme Anderson’s match report: Borini cracker seals derby joy for Sunderland

Fabio Borini celebrates after scoring his late winning goal for Sunderland against Newcastle United.
Fabio Borini celebrates after scoring his late winning goal for Sunderland against Newcastle United.
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WHAT Paolo did with passion and preening, Poyet did with precision and panache – delivering Sunderland fans a derby win which will remain fresh in their memories for many years to come.

Between them, the two steered Sunderland to the first back-to-back victories over the Magpies since 1967 – a length of time which can be properly gauged by the fact it was the year the Uruguayan was born.

And in doing so, pride was restored to a Wearside which has been left battered and bloodied by the morale-sapping events of the opening couple of months of the season.

Both derbies shared in common the absolute necessity of Sunderland winning them; both boasted moments of high drama; both were enriched by goals of the highest quality.

Where they differed, was that while Di Canio’s win carried the Black Cats to the brink of survival, Poyet’s leaves them with still such a long, long way to go.

There was no doubt going into the game that Sunderland were approaching the last chance saloon in terms of survival prospects: this was a game they simply could not afford to lose.

But as befits anyone in that particular beer bar, Poyet took a gamble.

With Sunderland still struggling to find its strongest team in the wake of a revolving door transfer window and winless eight game start, Poyet chose attack as the best form of defence going for a 4-4-2 formation.

Although the formation itself was an attacking one, the new head coach hoped to give it solidarity by putting round pegs in round holes and packing the team full of experienced, strong characters.

Tellingly, Sunderland’s team included only two of the club’s summer signings – Jozy Altidore and Andrea Dossena.

There was a return for Carlos Cuellar in central defence, with Bardsley restored to right-back. Jack Colback was given the nod in central midfield ahead of the available Ki Sung-Yueng.

Sunderland kicked off with Seb Larsson showing the right attitude from the start, closing down and tackling hard on the right wing, putting in a testing early cross.

And it was from the right that Sunderland’s early goal came when Chieck Tiote conceded a corner in the fifth minute.

Adam Johnson played it short to Larsson who returned it to the England man near the byeline and he clipped it across to Steven Fletcher, who climbed above stand-in centre-half Paul Dummett at the far post to nod home from four yards.

It was a fantastic start for the Black Cats, just what they needed in terms of settling nerves and getting the fans behind them, and Fletcher could be forgiven the emotion which saw him jump into the stands and getting booked as a result.

Fletcher was quick to capitalise on Sunderland’s early dominance and forced a fine save from Tim Krul from Altidore’s nod down.

But the striker had to be careful, with Yohan Cabaye chopping him down a minute later, that he did not respond and risk a second caution.

Sunderland continued to play with discipline and purpose in the minutes that followed and Newcastle were restricted to long range efforts from Cabaye in the eighth and Hatem Ben Arfa in the 12th, both of which flashed wide of the target.

Cabaye did manage a shot on goal in the 17th minute from a free-kick 30 yards out which he steered around the wall but Keiren Westwood was alert, dropping to his left to smother the low shot.

United got their first set-piece in the 19th minute when Cabaye lifted in a corner from the left but Sunderland – so vulnerable from them this season – defended solidly enough and did so throughout the game.

Midway through the first half and with driving rain now replacing strong winds as the climatic challenge, Newcastle had come back into the game strongly with Sunderland struggling for forward momentum.

Tiote, though, was lucky though not to pick up at least a yellow for a hand in the face of Larsson in the 27th minute and in the 28th Cabaye was yellow-carded for a foul on Colback.

The half-hour came up with United having corners from both left and right and Sunderland needing to slow the action down and relieve some of the pressure.

But they did so, with Adam Johnson putting in a good ball across the box after a decent passing move from Sunderland in the 34th minute.

And although Lee Cattermole’s touch was off on several occasions, the Black Cats held on to the ball well enough until Fletcher bundled over Tiote in the 37th minute and Ben Arfa whistled the free-kick wide from 35 yards out.

Sunderland won a free-kick in time added on at the end of the second half when Debuchy shoved over Colback.

But Johnson wasted it and there was a worry for Sunderland fans when Fletcher fell in the last challenge of the half and appeared to have hurt his shoulder.

It proved a false alarm with Fletcher able to return but there was a change involving strikers on the resumption, with Papiss Cisse replacing Moussa Sissoko as United set about on a more direct approach in more favourable weather conditions.

Sunderland would have been the happier with the start to the second half, managing to hold on to the ball and even getting the first shot on goal with and Dossena’s 48th minute shot wide of the target.

The home team looked to have pretty much imposed themselves as the game reached the hour but in the 58th minute Sunderland were undone when Newcastle United equalised thanks to Mathieu Debuchy’s first goal for the club.

Sunderland had given the ball away cheaply when Cabaye found Ben Arfa on the left of the area with a crossfield pass and the low diagonal ball to the far post was tapped home by the full-back, who had ghosted ahead of Johnson

Sunderland responded by upping their game immediately but their efforts yielded nothing and the next chance on goal came when Davide Santon and Arfa combined to fee Cabaye, who drove a rising shot narrowly wide in the 63rd minute.

Newcastle looked lively at this stage with Santon and Hatem Ben Arfa both going close with shots and with Sunderland labouring Poyet made his first change in the 69th minute when he withdrew Johnson and brought on Borini, who almost scored with his first touch – going close to getting a shot through Krul.

Two more changes followed straight after with Ki replacing Cattermole and Shola Ameobi coming on for the subdued Loic Remy.

In the 76th minute, the exhausted Bardsley was replaced by Ondrej Celustka and left the field to a mixed round of applause and boos.

Sunderland needed the extra energy the Czech right-back could provide though, having dropped off alarmingly, with Ameobi finding the space to drive a low shot just a yard wide in the 78th minute.

Sunderland won a free-kick in the 80th minute when Altidore was bundled to the floor just outside the ‘D’ but, perversely, Sunderland opted to give the opportunity to Fletcher, who fired it straight at the wall.

It was threatening to be a frustrating end to the game for Sunderland with Borini trying to get on the end of a decent long ball only to put it out for a goal-kick.

But the sting was in the tail as Sunderland scored one of THE great derby goals in the 84th minute

It started from Ki, who fed the ball forward to Colback whose ball to Altidore was mis-controlled by the big man just outside the area but was snapped up by Borini moving across him.

From 22 yards, the on-loan Liverpool man struck an astonishing right-foot shot into the top left-hand corner of Krul’s goal, the ball swerving away from the keeper who could only finger-tip it as it scorched into the corner of goal.

That sparked wild scenes of joy from the home-grown fans although the growing euphoria was almost extinguished when a John O’Shea header came close to producing a devastating own goal – Westwood just managing to snatch it before it crossed his line under pressure from Cisse.

Four minutes were added on in which Sunderland ticked the clock down with three corners in succession. Four minutes of nail-biting from the home fans.

But Lee Probert finally blew the whistle on a historic victory which breathed fresh new life into Sunderland’s season, with Poyet having perfectly calculated his game plan and his players deserving every plaudit for having delivered it.