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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sunderland v Newcastle: Will today's game be a modern classic?


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Sqf Steve Coulter general

Sunderland and Newcastle lock horns this afternoon and both sides will be eager to clinch all three points and the all-important bragging rights. Neither Martin O'Neill or Alan Pardew will care how they win, just as long as they are celebrating come the final whistle.

That's what a Tyne-Wear derby is all about - winning. However, sometimes these encounters do actually produce some quality football matches. I've taken a look back into the archives and highlighted five of the best games the two sides have thrown up in the Premier League.

SUNDERLAND 0 NEWCASTLE UNITED 1
2011 (AUGUST) FA PREMIER LEAGUE

Newcastle continued their promising start to the season with this hard fought win. The Tyne-Wear derby was decided by Ryan Taylor's 62nd free-kick. In truth the scoreline flattered an out-of-sorts Sunderland. The visitors should have been awarded a free half penalty when Seb Larsson handled Joey Barton's goal-bound effort.
 
The Toon's victory was built on defensive stability. The central defensive partnership of Steven Taylor and Fabio Coloccini successfully shackled the Black Cats' attack. The Stadium of Light faithful had little to cheer during the first half. Stephane Sessegnon's dipping shot brought out the best of Tim Krul. The Dutch keeper acrobatically tipped Sessegnon's drive over the bar.

The deadlock was finally broken with a moment of brilliance. Newcastle were awarded a free-kick on the left when Jonas Gutierrez was fouled. Taylor stepped up and curled a beauty into the the top corner.

The win lifted Newcastle United to fourth in the fledgling league table.

  
 
SUNDERLAND 1 NEWCASTLE UNITED 1
2011 FA PREMIER LEAGUE
 
Asamoah Gyan's stoppage time equaliser spared Sunderland's blushes in the 132nd Tyne-Wear league derby. Steve Bruce's Black Cats had trailed to Kevin Nolan's 52nd minute cheeky effort.

Sunderland beatingGoing into the game both sides were enjoying decent seasons. Newly promoted Newcastle United had established themselves in mid table while Sunderland were challenging for a Europa League spot.

In a bright start both teams squandered chances to break the deadlock. Shola Ameobi and Darren Bent both missed when clean through on goal. After the adventurous opening, chances were at a premium. Seven minutes after the break The Toon got their noses in front. Joey Barton's corner was flicked on by Ameobi,  with the home defence static Nolan back-heeled the ball home.
 
Sunderland huffed and puffed in search of parity. It looked like been a frustrating afternoon until Gyan's dramatic intervention. The leveller came in with a touch of good fortune. Phil Bardsley's shot was parried by Steve Harper. The rebound struck Gyan's leg and dribbled over the line.

Unfortunately I was not able to find any video footage, but this action photo shows Sunderland's equaliser.

 
 
SUNDERLAND 2 NEWCASTLE UNITED 1
2008 FA PREMIER LEAGUE

Sunderland fans had been waiting a long time for this day. They hadn't beaten their nearest and dearest for eight years. The win also halted a poor run in form - the Wearside club had won just once in seven games.
 
Newcastle were always in the contest. The front pairing of Obafemi Martins and Shola Ameobi kept the home defence on their toes. But it was the hosts who took a 20th minute lead. Djibril Cisse poked in Steed Malbranque's scuffed shot.

Ten minutes later the visitors were on level terms. Ameobi headed home Geremi's left wing cross. The Magpies' striker spurned a great chance to give the Geordies a second half lead. With an hour on the clock Martins' fine pass sliced through the Sunderland defence. Ameobi latched on to the through ball and seemed certain to grab his second, but the big frontman lost his composure and ballooned his short over the crossbar.

At the other end, Cisse nearly restored the Black Cats' lead. The Frenchman fluffed his shot when he was put clean through. The winner arrived on 75 minutes. Sunderland were awarded a free-kick when El Hadji Diouf was fouled on the edge of the penalty area. Kieran Richardson stepped forward and hammered a piledriver past Shay Given.

Cisse nearly made it three when his shot hit the bar.

 
 
NEWCASTLE UNITED 5 SUNDERLAND 1
2010 FA PREMIER LEAGUE

In the interest of fairness I wanted to include another Newcastle victory on Wearside, but I was unable to locate any more video footage of Geordie joy. It is a pity because in 2006 Newcastle walloped their neighbours at the Stadium Of Light. The 4-1 victory included goals for Alan Shearer and Michael Chopra. Chopra went on to have a brief spell at Sunderland.

Newcastle beatingBut I did manage to locate another memorable victory for the Toon. This Tyneside masterclass was held at St James' Park in October 2010. Newcastle were finding their feet after winning promotion. Manager Chris Hughton had steadied the ship after several years of upheavel. Their opponents also had a new man at the helm. Steve Bruce was in his first season as the Black Cats boss. It is fair to say that the fans hadn't taken to the new gaffer. Bruce was born in Northumberland and was a self-confessed Newcastle fan.

The Magpies took the lead on 26 minutes when Kevin Nolan's acrobatic overhead kick found the net. Nolan scored his second eight minutes later. Andy Carroll mishit shot fell kindly for Nolan who steered the ball home. The game was effectively over when Nedum Onuoha brought down Jonas Gutierrez. Referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot Ameobi made it 3-0 on the stroke of half time.

Things got worse for the Black Cats when Titus Bramble was sent off. The former Newcastle defender received his second yellow card after hauling Caroll to the ground. United made it four midway through the second half. Danny Simpson  flung over a right wing cross, Caroll headed against the bar before Ameobi gleefully gobbled up the rebound.

Fittingly it was Nolan who completed the rout. The midfielder nodded in at the far post to complete a memorable hat-trick.

Darren Bent's late strike was scant consultation for the Black Cats. In a post match interview Bruce admitted he had endured his worst day in football. The North East bragging rights belonged firmly to The Toon Army.

 
 
NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 SUNDERLAND 2
1999 FA PREMIER LEAGUE

This Tyne-Wear derby summed the two clubs' contrasting fortunes. After a rapturous welcome, Ruud Gullit was struggling to win over the Newcastle United fans. The Dutchman was appointed Toon manager a year earlier. From the outset the omens weren't good. His fist match saw Liverpool win 4-1 at St James'. Michael Owen helped himself to a hat-trick to spoil the Tyneside party.

The 1999/2000 campaign began in similar fashion. United had only picked up a single point from four games. Aside from the dire results, rumours of dressing room disharmony began to circulate. Gullit had a thorny relationship with Alan Shearer. The two superstars clearly didn't see eye-to-eye. Robert Lee and Duncan Ferguson also fell out of favour with the new regime.

Twelve miles down the road it was a completely different story. Newly-promoted Sunderland were enjoyed their return to the big time. Having beaten Watford at home, the red and white stripes were in buoyant mood. Peter Reid's side also boasted a deadly strike partnership. The strikeforce of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips had plundered 41 league goals as the Black Cats stormed to the Championship title.

The match hit the headlines before a ball had been kicked. The Newcastle starting eleven excluded Shearer and Ferguson. The two strikers had to be content with a place on the substitutes' bench. Little known Paul Robinson was asked to lead the home side's attack. As torrential rain swept across St James' Park, the pressure was firmly on Ruud Gullit. He was breathing a little easier when Kieron Dyer gave the Magpies a half-time lead. The England winger was put clean through. Black Cats goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen dashed out to confront Dyer, but the former Ipswich player calmly lifted the ball over Sorensen to make it 1-0.

Maybe the audacious gamble was about to pay off?

The visitors were always in the game and equalised through a familiar source. The home defence went AWOL as Nicky Summerbee's free-kick was glanced in by Quinn. With the game back in the melting pot Gullit turned to Shearer. The substitution lifted the crowd, who had been in sombre mood. Throughout the game Shearer's name has been chanted by disgruntled fans. But the final word belonged to another star striker.

Again Nicky Summerbee was the provider. The wide man's astute pass released Phillips. His initial shot was blocked by Tommy Wright. Phillips reacted quickest as the ball drifted towards the touchline. With Wright scrambling back to his goal, Super Kev turned 180 degrees and floated a shot over Wright's head and into the net.

The splendid finish sealed Gullit's fate. Three days later he resigned. Sir Bobby Robson replaced Gullit a week later. Sir Bobby restored order and saved Newcastle from relegation. Sunderland enjoyed an impressive debut season. The Wearsiders finished seventh.

 

Well there are five of the most memorable meetings between the two, but who will come out on top today and will today's game be remembered as fondly as some of these?

Whatever your view we would love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth

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