1-1 deadlock does nothing to ease relegation fears for Newcastle and Sunderland
Aleksandar Mitrovic heads late equaliser to end Magpies losing run against their fierce neighbours and rivals
Aleksandar Mitrovic headed a late equaliser to end Newcastle’s miserable losing run against fiercest neighbours and rivals Sunderland but the 1-1 draw still leaves both teams deep in the English Premier League relegation mire.
The Serb soared at the far post to nod Georginio Wijnaldum’s 79th-minute chipped cross back into the opposite corner just as the home fans at St James’ Park were preparing for a seventh straight defeat at the hands of the Black Cats.
Sunderland had gone ahead a minute before half-time when Jermain Defoe volleyed in his 12th goal of the season and they had held out under plenty of Newcastle second-half pressure, even clearing off the line through Yann M’Vila soon after the break.
Described as one of the most important of the 156 Tyne-Wear derbies with relegation this season expected to cost £100 million (HK$1.12 billion), the draw pleased neither Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce nor his old sparring partner, Newcastle’s new boss Rafa Benitez, with both sides still left in the relegation zone.
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez told Sky Sports: “The positive thing for me is we have eight games to play and the reaction today from the players was positive.
“To win would have been perfect but when you are losing in the first half and keep the same gap, it’s positive. The main thing was that the fans supported us today and we want that in every single game.”
Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce said: “If we don’t start getting these clean sheets it’s going to be a massive problem. We are a team that has to score twice to win. Sadly we didn’t get the second goal and we conceded late on again. We had the chances to put the game to bed, but missed them.
“We need four wins from the last eight, so it’s now must-win rather than draw.”