Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ugly Scenes Spoilt a Great Derby Meeting

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ugly Scenes Spoilt a Great Derby Meeting

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES HUNTER

SUNDERLAND have grown used to derby disappointment on Tyneside in recent years - but this time it was different.

This time it was not the sick-to-thestomach feeling which follows a defeat, it was the sheer frustration of coming within minutes of a famous victory only to let two points slip from their grasp.

Martin O'Neill was just four minutes away from winning the Tyne-Wear derby at the first attempt and ending Sunderland's 12-year wait for a victory at St James' Park.

Only an injury-time equaliser from Shola Ameobi - who always seems to score against Sunderland - got Newcastle out of jail against the 10-man Black Cats, who deservedly led through Nicklas Bendtner's first-half penalty.

The lateness of Ameobi's strike made this feel like a defeat for Sunderland, although when the dust settles it will be seen in a different light.

The Wearsiders, a man down and away from home, will view this as a much better point than Newcastle, who had home advantage, a man advantage for the final half hour and also missed a penalty. If Ameobi was the hero for a relieved Newcastle, it was goalkeeper Simon Mignolet who was the star for Sunderland.

The Belgium international replicated Thomas Sorensen's penalty save from Alan Shearer - denying Demba Ba at the same end of the ground and the same side of the goal as the Dane foiled Shearer in 2000 - to make sure of his place among Black Cats derby legends.

In the end, though, it was honours even. Points shared, but the sad thing is this game will be remembered not for the football but for the ugly atmosphere in which it was played.

Nine yellow cards, two reds, two penalties, embarrassing play-acting, backroom staff sent to the stands, shameful scenes on the touchline, an air of thinly-disguised contempt between the managers - it was not a derby day to be proud of.

Referee Mike Dean had to work overtime and, to his credit, he got the big calls right. …

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