For the first time since they settled for a 1-1 draw in the Premier League almost eight years ago, Sunderland would face Newcastle United as this bitter Tyne and Wear Derby continues in the Emirates FA Cup Third Round.
With the Magpies out of form in recent weeks and having lost seven of their previous eight games, second-tier Sunderland could arguably be considered as the favourites ahead of kick-off – having lost just two of their eight games since the start of December by contrast.
SUN: Patterson; Alese, Ballard, O’Nien, Hume; Neil, Ekwah; Clarke, Bellingham, Pritchard; Rusyn
NEW: Dubravka; Burn, Botman, Schär, Trippier; Joelinton, Guimarães, Longstaff; Gordon, Isak, Almirón
Keen to bring their poor form to an end on the most historic of occasions in the North East, Kieran Trippier sought to tee up Sean Longstaff within the opening two minutes at the Stadium of Light. The midfielder’s tame effort on goal was smothered well by Anthony Patterson.Embed from Getty Images
But the match would quickly develop into an end-to-end affair, with Pierre Ekwah seeking to spark and attack from midfield as he launched a long ball over the top for Jack Clarke – though his delivery was over-powered and the intended target was left to watch as it beat him to the byline.
As expected in a derby of this nature, physicality wasn’t lacking, and a superb block from Dan Ballard ignited a fiery period of fifteen minutes or so after he slid in to deny Trippier space to deliver a lethal cross.
When the clock ticked past the thirty-minute mark, the Magpies seemed to settle – with Miguel Almirón playing Alexander Isak through on goal, only for the Swedish forward to be denied a shooting opportunity after a well-timed challenge from Ballard.
But for all of his early heroics, it would be a Ballard mistake that saw Eddie Howe’s visitors take the lead with 35 minutes on the clock. Working his way infield from the left flank, Joelinton’s played a low ball across the box for Isak at the back post – though the defender arrived on scene first, inadvertently slamming into his own net to open the scoring.Embed from Getty Images
Newcastle United certainly appeared rejuvenated after storming into the lead, coming close to doubling their advantage just before the break as Bruno Guimarães found Almiron in space on the edge of the box. The Paraguayan couldn’t find the back of the net though, slicing his effort wide of the post as the Magpies were forced to settle for a one-goal lead at half-time.
That lead would soon be extended after the interval though, as a hyperactive Almirón dispossessed Ekwah on the edge of the Sunderland box before feeding Isak, who slotted home into an empty net after just 32 seconds.Embed from Getty Images
But keen to make amends for his error, Ekwah unleashed a thunderous effort that posed a threat to Dubravka’s clean sheet. The goalkeeper looked to have it covered, but a slight deflection off a defender forced him to react quickly to parry the shot away with his feet. The momentum looked to have swung for the Mackems, with Alex Pritchard also worrying Dubravka as his rocket of a strike from thirty yards out struck the top of the crossbar.
Michael Beale’s men were unable to capitalise on this swing in momentum though, and another clumsy error from Ballard in the dying minutes saw the Magpies awarded a penalty after a foul on Anthony Gordon inside the box.
Stepping up in front of the sizeable away crowd, Isak made no mistake, with his low effort beating Patterson to put any hopes of a late Sunderland comeback to bed.
Newcastle United will find out their next FA Cup opponents on Monday, with the draw set to take place ahead of Wigan Athletic v Manchester United. The Magpies will be ball number 15, and Eddie Howe’s side will play just one Premier League match ahead of their return to cup action – as they host Manchester City next weekend.
Sunderland’s next match sees them travel to Ipswich Town.