Di Canio’s Sunderland stun Magpies in northeast derby
Italian’s new side record first St James’s Park win since 2000 to ease relegation fears
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio during the 3-0 win over Newcastle at St James’s Park. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio during the 3-0 win over Newcastle at St James’s Park. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/Reuters
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio celebrates Adam Johnson’s goal at St James's Park. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Sunderland's coach Paolo Di Canio reacts after Stephane Sessegnon’s opener at St James’s Park. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/Reuters
Newcastle United 0 Sunderland 3: Paolo Di Canio's celebration as Adam Johnson scored Sunderland's second goal to secure their first victory here in 13 years was quite something. Perhaps it was an outpouring that should have been expected, after two torrid weeks where the Italian's political beliefs have earned more column inches than his managerial ability.
Di Canio, in a style befitting José Mourinho, slid along the turf whilst beating his chest like a madman, ruining his pristine suit in the process. After David Vaughan's wonderful strike with eight minutes remaining that put the gloss on this remarkable result, following Stephane Sessegnon's earlier opener, Di Canio then found himself at the centre of an almighty red and white scrum.
No wonder he was so delighted. This crucial win lifts Sunderland three points clear of the relegation zone, dragging Newcastle back into the dogfight at the same time, and although the home side can be aggrieved that Papiss Cissé had a legitimate goal ruled out for offside, this was a hugely impressive performance from Sunderland in one of the most memorable north-east derbies of recent times.
The opening opportunity came in controversial circumstances. Danny Graham, the local boy and Newcastle fan signed by Martin O'Neill in January, had the ball rolled to his feet inside the area, but as he turned Steven Taylor the defender desperately clung to his shirt to deny him the shooting chance. Graham tumbled down but Howard Webb, whose view was perhaps obstructed, waved away the penalty appeals.
Sunderland, though, did not have to wait long for a reprieve. A careless pass from Jonás Gutiérrez in midfield was intercepted and James McLean broke swiftly up the left flank, cutting a pass inside for Sessegnon and, with Taylor backing away, the Benin international fired a precise low shot past Tim Krul from the edge of the D, grazing the goalkeeper's right post as it nestled into the corner.
Di Canio celebrated as if the goal had secured Sunderland's safety this season but his mood quickly turned to concern as Newcastle fought for an immediate equaliser.
They came mighty close. As the half-hour mark approached a missed interception allowed Cissé room to latch onto a through-ball, but his goalbound prod was brilliantly diverted behind by Simon Mignolet. Mignolet was on hand soon after, diving low to his left at full stretch to deny Cissé again who thought he had guided Moussa Sissoko's pass into the bottom corner.
Newcastle's frustration was building and they were again denied when Mignolet tipped Gutiérrez's effort, originally intended as a cross but arcing into the top corner, behind with another fine save. However, they were fortunate not to be two behind at half-time as an unmarked Carlos Cuéllar saw his towering header stopped well by Krul in the closing stages of the first period.
A free-kick was swung in from the left touchline and Ameobi's downward header found Cissé at the far post, who steered the ball into the roof of the net. But as the erupted Darren Cann's offside flag was raised, despite Cissé being played clearly onside.
It proved a key moment in the game as Sunderland doubled their lead in fine fashion after 74 minutes, Johnson cutting inside from the right to curl an unstoppable effort past the substitute goalkeeper Rob Elliott.
Elliott had no chance with the third, either. Sessegnon slid in Vaughan who rifled a rocket into the top corner, sending Sunderland's fans and Di Canio into ecstasy.