Newcastle United 1-1 Sunderland: Mitrovic rescues a point for the Toon

Serbian Striker's late header stops a run of seven straight derby defeats, but both sides will leave St. James' Park frustrated

Newcastle United 1-1 Sunderland: Mitrovic rescues a point for the Toon
Mitrovic celebrates his leveller (Source: Sky Sports)
Newcastle United
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Newcastle United: Elliot, Janmaat (Anita 71), Mbemba, Lascelles, Colback (De Jong 62), Shelvey, Wijnaldum, Townsend (Cisse 76), Pérez, Sissoko, Mitrovic. Subs not used: Darlow, Taylor, Saivet, Riviere.
Sunderland : Mannone, Yedlin, Kone, Kaboul (O'Shea 72), van Aanholt, Kirchhoff (Cattermole 84), M'Vila, Rodwell, Borini, Khazri (N'Doye 75), Defoe. Subs not used: Jones, Pickford, Lens, Toivonen.
SCORE: 0-1, min. 44, Defoe. 1-1, min. 83, Mitrovic.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson Admonished Colback (17), Janmaat (36), Shelvey (52), Mitrovic (83), Mannone (90)

Newcastle United finally ended their run of seven successive derby defeats, fighting back to claim a point in the Tyne-Wear derby, drawing 1-1 with Sunderland.

In a typically cagey and feisty affair, it was the visitors who drew first blood, Jermain Defoe with a calm finish to silence the home support.

Defoe nets against Toon again

Defoe's opener came at the end of a first half that had seen numerous attacks at both ends of the pitch, but the two relegation-threatened sides had struggled to show the quality needed to fashion a goal. That changed when Khazri's corner was pulled short and lofted in to the area, and slack marking gave the former England striker just enough time and space to place a shot past Rob Elliot.

The second half saw Newcastle grow ever more frustrated, with Jack Colback arguably lucky not to have picked up a second yellow against his former side. In his first game at St. James' Park, Rafael Benitez replaced him with Siem De Jong in a bid to freshen up Newcastle's blunt approach play.

Stand-in left back Moussa Sissoko did well in his new position, and as the game wore on The Magpies started to see more of the ball and attempted to break down a Sunderland side that were more than happy to sit back and cling on to the 1-0 scoreline.

Sunderland's best chance of a nervous second half came when Patrick Van Aanholt broke into the box and his curling shot was denied by a superb, athletic save from Elliot. 

Mitrovic levels up

Tame efforts from Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez frustrated the home crowd, but the Geordies finally broke through when a superb cross from Wijnaldum found Aleksandar Mitrovic, who nodded in his far-post header to break The Black Cat's resistance.

A clearly pumped-up Mitrovic tore his shirt off in celebration, and his desire to score a second was underlined by his determination to return to the field after suffering a head injury in added time, although he remained on the bench at the advice of Newcastle's medical staff.

It was a deserved point for Newcastle but both sides will go away disappointed that they weren't able to secure an all-important win. The Premier League's north-east sides remain in the relegation zone. Sunderland are two points behind 17th-placed Norwich City with Newcastle three points behind The Canaries in 19th. While both sides will fancy their chances of overhauling Alex Neil's men, given their game in hand, the table underlines just how huge a win would have been.

Benitez will be encouraged by how his side responded to the threat of yet another Sunderland victory in the derby, and that they've snapped their losing streak. The question now is whether his new charges have the ability to collect enough points from their final eight games to ensure survival.