ADAM JOHNSON says he is claiming the bragging rights among Sunderland’s three derby scorers after striking the fatal wound at St James’s Park.
Johnson, Stephane Sessegnon and David Vaughan wrote themselves into Sunderland folklore on Sunday after netting in the Black Cats’ biggest win over the Magpies since 1979.
But the quality of the three goals has prompted much debate in the Sunderland dressing room over whose was the finest.
A half-joking Johnson believes his fifth goal in red and white was the pick of the bunch after handing Paolo Di Canio’s side a crucial two-goal cushion with 16 minutes remaining.
“David’s was a great strike, but mine was probably more important!” said Johnson.
“The game is never finished at 1-0, especially at a place like that where they can put a lot of pressure on.
“So it was nice to get that cushion with 15 minutes left and from then on, there was only going to be one winner.
“In the end, it was comfortable and we maybe could have had a couple more goals.
“It was fantastic and well deserved.”
While the three scorers stole the headlines, Johnson has not overlooked the contribution of Sunderland’s defenders on Tyneside.
Newcastle enjoyed a 20-minute spell at the start of the second half – when Papiss Cisse wrongly had a goal ruled out for offside – but Sunderland held firm to record their first clean sheet since January.
Johnson said: “The first 15 minutes of the second half was the most important time for us because we knew they would come at us and put the long ball up after Shola (Ameobi) came on.
“But we defended really well, kept our shape and they could not live with our counter-attacks.”
Johnson has been one player to reap the benefits of Di Canio’s appointment, with the Italian repeatedly issuing instructions to the England winger from the touchline at both Newcastle and during his first game in charge at Chelsea.
The 25-year-old has responded and admits Di Canio’s enthusiasm has rubbed off on the Sunderland squad. “He’s obviously got a lot of enthusiasm and that’s infectious,” added the former Manchester City man. “You can see how he reacted to the goals on the touchline and that shows the sort of passion he’s got.”