It was bright start from both sides on Tyneside with Jermain Defoe, Mitrovic, Jack Rodwell, Defoe and Andros Townsend all having decent chances all within the first 45 minutes but couldn’t find the crucial opener until Defoe opened the scoring just before the break.
Newcastle increased the pressure as the second half begun with great chances from Ayoze Perez, Mitrovic and Moussa Sissoko but couldn’t capitalise before Rob Elliot made a great save from Patrick Van Aanholt just before the hour mark. A few half-chances followed for the home side but Mitrovic’s strike made sure the points were shared on Tyneside.
It was very open start to proceedings in what has been touted as the biggest Tyne-Wear derby since 1990 and it was the away side that nearly drew first blood. Defoe was brought back into the starting XI by Sam Allardyce and almost repaid his faith three minutes in when he sliced Fabio Borini’s knock-on over the crossbar on the turn.
It was then the turn of the home side four minutes later when Townsend made a storming run down on the right-hand side and Mitrovic did well to get past Lamine Kone but he could only fire it over the crossbar. Elliot was forced into the first real save of the afternoon when Wahbi Khazri’s free-kick fell onto the head of Rodwell but the keeper was equal to it as he tipped the midfielders header over.
Closer and closer
Defoe looked to have given Sunderland the lead in the 19th minute when Rodwell’s low ball found the striker at the near post which had the Black Cats up in the heavens of St James’ Park in hysteria but he only found the side-netting.
Rafael Benitez’s side almost gave the Spaniard the perfect welcoming gift as they broke instantly down field through Townsend who drives it from distance but Vito Mannone had it covered. Defoe nearly slid it home just seconds later from Khazri’s ball but the Englishman was just a few inches too short to reach it.
Defoe strikes first
The veteran striker Defoe has arguably the best opportunities of the opening 45 minutes but repaid for his earlier mishaps as he gave the away side a crucial lead a minute from the break.
It was ultimately poor defending from the Magpies as Elliot initially did brilliantly to palm away Borini’s effort from outside the area. It was only as far as Defoe who showed great technique when the ball dropped at his feet to volley it into the ground through a crowd of Newcastle players and into the net
Newcastle came flying out of the traps in the second half and were inches from equalising just three minutes after the restart. Mitrovic nodded the ball into the path of Perez who wasn’t helped by the angle but got it beyond Mannone but Yann M’Vila was there on the line to clear. Mitrovic and Sissoko should have done better with their half-chances with the Mitrovic’s header was straight at Mannone and Sissoko slicing the shot.
Elliot was called upon just before the hour mark in spectacular style as Van Aanholt tried a fierce shot on the angle but the keeper who has been impressive throughout the whole season was there to tip it away.
Points snatched away
Allardyce’s side looked to have snatched their seventh consecutive victory over their bitter rivals but it was cruelly snatched away eight minutes from time.
The equaliser came from the foul throw from DeAndre Yedlin as the home side broke straight onto the attack as Georginio Wijnaldum played a dangerous ball into the back post. Mitrovic had threatened all game and was their as he rose highest to hit the header back across goal to send St James’ Park into a hysteria and send Sunderland back down to Wearside with just the point to show for their efforts.