More derby delight for the Magpies as they pick up their first three points of the season with a narrow against 10 man Black Cats at the Stadium of Light
Though it could scarcely have gone as badly as last season's 5-1 defeat away to their bitter rivals, this toothless display will have quietened the home fans' optimism after they began the season with an opening day draw at Anfield.
The match was a typical derby game, combative and fiercely contested throughout the opening exchanges, and it was the Black Cats who started the game with more purpose, attacking almost solidly for the opening 15 minutes, though they could not really make the pressure tell despite Stephane Sessegnon’s best efforts.
The first flash point, however, came in the home side’s penalty area, with a huge let off for the hosts. Shola Ameobi nodded the ball across goal after keeper Simon Mignolet failed to collect, and Newcastle’s enfant terrible, Joey Barton got his head to the ball to divert goalwards.
Sebastian Larsson, however, was ‘on hand’ to divert the ball away and while Barton correctly appealed for a penalty, it was denied by referee Howard Webb after consultation with his linesman.
Webb was forced to act soon after, however, as Yohan Cabaye became the first name to enter the referee’s book for a late, high, and ultimately needless challenge on Phil Bardsley.
Cabaye wasn’t alone in the book for long, however, soon joined by Wes Brown and Ryan Taylor, both for their second mistimed tackles.
In terms of efforts on goal, the match was disappointingly lacking and becoming rather scrappy in the midfield, though Mignolet and Newcastle’s Tim Krul made good saves when they were called upon.
The half ended with Asamoah Gyan, who had been relatively quiet up to that point, just clipping the bar as he curled a shot over.
The second half began quietly, until Sunderland had a penalty shout of their own, again turned down by Webb, as Chieck Tiote seemed to bring down Kieran Richardson in the box.
It was Newcastle, however, who were looking the most likely to score, through the dangerous Jonas Gutierrez, cutting in from the left and bringing decent saves from Krul.
Indeed it was Gutierrez who paved the way for the first goal, going on another weaving run, only to be brought down in the channel.
From here, Ryan Taylor’s free-kick sailed into the box and though his namesake Steven Taylor was flying in to meet the ball, he did not get a touch on it as the ball flew over the despairing dive of Mignolet and into the far corner.
Derby delight | Mignolet can only watch as Taylor's free-kick hands Newcastle victory
Perhaps inevitably, Barton and Cattermole were both booked five minutes later, along with Bardsley, as Cattermole’s reckless challenge on Gutierrez caused a melee which threatened to boil over, but ultimately simmered.
In truth, Sunderland never really threatened in the second half and the match petered out despite Steve Bruce’s introduction of new signing Connor Wickham.
And in the 89th minute, it seemed that their misery was complete when Bardsley saw red for his second bookable offence, though Sunderland were extremely unhappy with the decision as the defender appeared to get the ball, though he followed through high onto Fabricio Coloccini’s leg with considerable force.
Sunderland were never really in danger of finding their opponents' net, and it was Newcastle who came closest to scoring late on, as Mignolet got down well to block in added time.
It was a miserable day for the home fans on Wearside, and one that their neighbours are unlikely to let them forget for a while.