Adam Johnson Snatches Sunderland Victory Over Newcastle
Sunderland clinched a fourth straight win over fierce rivals Newcastle as Adam Johnson's last-gasp strike at St James' Park sealed a 1-0 victory.
Johnson rounded off a fine Sunderland counter-attack, which he had initiated himself, following a Newcastle corner in the final minute.
The former England winger drilled substitute Will Buckley's knock-back past third-choice Toon keeper Jak Alnwick to send the travelling fans delirious when it appeared the spoils were destined to be shared.
The counter came less than a minute after Costel Pantilimon acrobatically denied Moussa Sissoko's fierce 30-yard drive.
Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham came close to opening the scoring in an opening half where Newcastle began the brighter of the two teams, but the Scot saw his strike hit the bar before Wickham headed wide from a yard out.
Ayoze Perez proved to be main threat for visitors in a hotly-contested and, at times, ill-tempered affair on Tyneside.
But Johnson's 90th-minute strike sealed the points as Newcastle's dismal form against the Black Cats continued – Sunderland had never won four in a row against their bitter rivals before.
The result moves Sunderland to within four points of their north-east rivals and four points clear of the relegation zone, while Newcastle remain ninth.
The game certainly lived up to its pre-match billing as Lee Cattermole set the tone inside the opening 10 seconds with a strong challenge on Daryl Janmaat.
Things soon came to boil again as last-minute addition Sebastian Coates, filling for Anthony Reveillere who picked up an injury in the warm-up, and Fabricio Coloccini saw yellow for either side.
Newcastle made the brighter start of the two teams but it was Sunderland who had the better of the first half chances.
Wickham wasted a glorious opportunity to put the visitors ahead when Johnson's free-kick found him unmarked at the back post, but he somehow headed wide when it looked easier to score.
Fletcher then hit the bar after he stretched to connect with Sebastian Larsson's instinctive pass upfield.
After controlling Sissoko's flick-on, Perez curled a shot just beyond the post for Newcastle in a moment of individual brilliance, but the hosts could not make their larger share of possession count in front of goal.
Despite their lack of possession, Sunderland continued to create the clearer openings in the second half.
Jordi Gomez missed the game's clearest opportunity to break to deadlock as he failed to hit the target from 10 yards out after a Black Cats counter.
The opportunity presented itself for Gomez while Newcastle were temporarily down to 10 men following defender Steven Taylor's horrid face-first collision with the post as he made a desperate clearance to prevent Fletcher from heading into an open net.
Taylor returned minutes later patched up – much to the delight of the home faithful – and it seemed to inspire Newcastle who built some momentum as they pursued an opener.
Perez forced a fingertip save from Pantilimon with a curler, and then Sissoko broke upfield for the fifth time in the game, narrowly missing Sammy Ameobi's drilled cross into the area.
Pantilimon then produced a wonder save to seemingly ensure the game ended goalless – tipping Sissoko's drive over the bar.
But less than a minute later Sunderland broke through Johnson who, after finding Fletcher on the left, headed towards goal. Fletcher found substitute Buckley inside the box and he laid the ball into the path of Johnson, who blasted home to seal an historic win for Gus Poyet's men.
Newcastle: Alnwick (7), Janmaat (6), taylor (6), Coloccini (5), Dummett (6), Tiote (6), Colback (7), Gouffran (5), Sissoko (8), Ameobi (6), Perez (7).
Used subs: Cisse (4), Cabella (3), Armstrong (5).
Sunderland: Pantilimon (8), Bergini (5), Coates (6), Brown (5), O'Shea (6), Cattermole (6), Johnson (9), Larsson (7), Gomez (5), Wickham (7), Fletcher (7).
Used subs: Bridcutt (4), Rodwell (3), Buckley (6).
Man of the match: Adam Johnson