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Mitrovic cancels out Defoe opener in tense Tyne-Wear derby draw

Holly Thackeray | March 20, 2016

Newcastle United 1-1 Sunderland

  • Defoe hit dramatic 44th minute derby opener
  • Mitrovic grabbed late equaliser to dent Black Cats hopes
  • The 156th Tyne-Wear wrangle ends evenly
  • Both teams stay in the relegation zone

Sunderland split Magpies spoils

In an atmosphere crackling with tension and passion, which would surely be missed by the Premier League should both ot either side sink to the second-tier, Newcastle and Sunderland split the spoils in a tenacious Tyne-Wear derby/relegation wrangle.

It was Jermain Defoe who opened proceedings on Tyneside, with a typical poacher’s finish just before the break, but the Englishman’s eye-catching volley was cancelled out by Magpies marksman Aleksandar Mitrovic around the 83rd minute mark.

So, both sides stay put in the drop zone but, if either had managed to illustrate the desire on show in this derby all season, they would certainly not be in this predicament.

Early Northeast excitement

Sunderland were the first to fashion a chance amid the derby din of St James’ Park, as leading Mackems man Defoe turned to balloon a Fabio Borini knock-down over the bar, hurriedly lashing at the ball instead of allowing wideman Wahbi Khazri to collect from a better position.

As the Magpies (now 7/4 with Coral to stay up) broke following a quickly taken free-kick, Andros Townsend danced down the pitch before delivering to Mitrovic, but the marksman also scooped well over, with nerves on show in this Northeast exchange.

Newcastle United v Sunderland - Barclays Premier League - St James' Park

While, as the early jabs continued by both teams, Jack Rodwell forced Rob Elliot into away palming his headed effort, as a chorus of heckles and chants rained down in Newcastle.

Townsend again tested as a threat down the right flank, skipping away from Sunderland’s defence to pop ovr a terrific looping cross. Midfield man Moussa Sissoko made contact, but not the good kind, flinging the ball back in the direction from whence it came despite arriving tantalisingly at the near post.

Townsend continues to trouble

It took around just 16 minutes for the first yellow card to be shown, as former Black Cats boy Jack Colback took out Borini near the sidelines, meaning the makeshift full back now misses two upcoming important clashes against fellow relegation threats Norwich City and also Southampton.

Then, just seconds later, dangerman Defoe almost sent travelling fans into raptures, as his strike seemed to have gone in – but had actually, and agonisingly for away fans, only hit the side netting.

Newcastle United v Sunderland - Barclays Premier League - St James' Park

It was certainly end-to-end action, as Townsend seized upon a Black Cats backline wobble to charge infield and send a stinging shot at Vito Mannone, before Defoe slid into the Magpies box, inches away from converting with a Khazri cross.

More slick play from fleet-footed Townsend found Ayoze Perez one-on-one with Younes Kaboul, the Frenchman hauling his Spanish opponent down as the nimble attacker tried a nutmeg. It was January signing Jonjo Shelvey who stepped up to take the set-piece just outside the area, flashing his menacing strike wide of Mannone’s right post.

Defoe makes difference

Having made a meal of his earlier opportunity, it was veteran Defoe who dispatched to send the away end and Sam Allardyce delirious and stun the rest of St James’ Park.

Borini took a pot shot from outside the area that Elliot could not cling on to and, as the Magpies scrambled to clear their lines, unmarked Defoe bobbed up with a deadly volley for the derby’s opener just before the break, dispatching ruthlessly in the left hand corner.

The striker, now on nine league away goals for the term, appeared to take a ‘selfie’ in his own unique celebration and who could blame him? That goal was Defoe’s second in his past three Tyne-Wear derbies and also his second league strike in a row. Decisive.

Keepers called into action

Things were no less explosive when beginning the second 45, as Daryl Janmaat whipped up home fans before Yann M’Vila was forced to clear off Sunderland’s line, with Mannone caught in no-man’s land as Perez struck.

The tackles just kept flying in, as Newcastle skipper Shelvey lunged in on Jan Kirchhoff to see yellow, while Mitrovic threatened goal with a glancing header, though Mannone had the measure of it.

Newcastle United v Sunderland - Barclays Premier League - St James' Park

Momentum appeared to now be with the Magpies, but it was still stopper Elliot who proved to be their most important player after the break, swooping to prevent the Black Cats bagging a second.

Khazri was determined down the flank and finally managed to squeeze the ball to overlapping left back Patrick van Aanholt. The Dutchman pulled the trigger from close range, but Elliot pulled off an instinctive save to much applause.

Newcastle continued to press for a leveller, but the Black Cats closed ranks, frustrating Rafael Benitez into throwing returning poacher Papiss Cisse into the fray after a long spell on the sidelines.

Mitrovic a Magpies menace

Persistence eventually paid off, but it was starting marksman Mitrovic who sparked St James’ back to life with a late header.

Georginio Wijnaldum was the creator, leaving Dame N’Doye in his wake as whipped a lovely ball to Sunderland’s back post, with Mitrovic clambering above DeAndre Yedlin to nod powerfully past Mannone and go on to celebrate wildly with a fan. That’s why Newcastle bought him! Though, the striker was later forced off the pitch after a head injury, much to his evident displeasure as the clock ticked down.

Following a fraught finish, the Magpies will undoubtedly be pleased with their point and courageous fight back, while rivals the Mackems will rue a chance to claw away from the relegation scrap, as everything remains finely balanced in the Northeast…

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