SUNDERLAND manager Paolo Di Canio launched his Tyne-Wear derby career in spectacular style yesterday as his side eased their relegation fears with a resounding victory at the home of bitter rivals Newcastle.
Scorers: Sunderland: Sessegnon (27), Johnson (74), Vaughan (82)
However, the aftermath of the match saw ugly scenes unfold in Newcastle city centre as some home supporters turned on police and Sunderland fans. A total of 27 people were arrested and three police officers injured following clashes which saw missiles thrown at police as a group of Newcastle fans tried to confront Sunderland supporters in Central Station. One officer was taken to hospital for treatment.
The violence marred a dismal day for Newcastle, as they fell to a Black Cats side who had arrived on Tyneside without a win in nine Barclays Premier League games. Stephane Sessegnon shot the visitors into a first-half lead and stunning strikes by Adam Johnson and substitute David Vaughan after the break ensured there was no way back for Alan Pardew’s men, who are now only two points better off than their derby rivals.
Di Canio dropped to his knees in celebration on the sidelines when Johnson’s 74th-minute effort hit the back of the net, and it was the travelling fans among a crowd of 52,355 making all the noise as Sunderland won at St James’ Park for the first time since November 2000.
Di Canio dedicated the win to his late mother. “Sometimes, some special things have to remain inside yourself,” he said. “It’s not good to share with others because it’s very deep inside yourself. But I believe in this thing. Before the kick-off, I saw the face of my Mama smiling. Exactly yesterday, it was one year since she passed away. Exactly one year ago, there was the same situation. I was in the dug-out the day after she passed away and we won the game – I was at Swindon – and today, it has happened again. For this, I have to thank not only my Mama, otherwise my Dad – he is next to her, but today, he is going to be upset. But Dad, Mama was special today, so my dedication goes to her today, to my Mam.”
Sunderland made the short trip up the A19 having won only once in their previous 16 derbies. But the crippling lack of confidence which had characterised the final days of Martin O’Neill’s reign had been swept away by Di Canio’s effervescence and with Sessegnon terrorising the home rearguard, the Black Cats dominated for long periods. They made the breakthrough after 27 minutes when Jonas Gutierrez failed to dispossess Sessegnon as he cut inside towards goal and unleashed a skidding shot which sped past goalkeeper Tim Krul and into the bottom corner.
Newcastle might have been level within seconds when Papiss Cisse turned Phil Bardsley inside the penalty area, only to see the advancing Simon Mignolet block his effort. The visitors would have increased their lead four minutes before the break had Krul not managed to block Carlos Cuellar’s downward header from a Sebastian Larsson corner, but Mignolet had to tip away Gutierrez’s injury-time cross as the first half drew to a close.
Sunderland had a let-off in 61 minutes when Cisse smashed the ball into the roof of the net, only to be denied by an offside flag, this time incorrectly. Cisse fired another effort wide from Moussa Sissoko’s cross in 73 minutes with Newcastle pressing, but Johnson dashed their hopes when he steered a superb left-foot shot past ’keeper Rob Elliot to make it 2-0. There was worse to come for the home side with eight minutes remaining when Vaughan blasted a swerving left-foot drive high past Elliot and inside the far post to complete the Black Cats’ dream afternoon.
Di Canio, who described his latest experience of a big derby as “beautiful”, was thrilled by the way his gameplan was implemented by the players. He said: “The big rivalry we have got in this area is very famous around the world, so to get the three points away from home against Newcastle was fantastic. For the result in the area, it is a massive step, but in terms of the table, it’s a small step. We are on 34 [points] now, we are not safe, but it’s obvious that it was a fantastic result.”
Opposite number Alan Pardew said: “We will have to wear it, probably next year as well. That’s what happens when you lose one of these games. We are under no illusions as to the responsibility we have to our fans, and we have let them down today 100 per cent.”