In a derby that has been dubbed ‘The most important in History’, a loss for either side was out of the question considering both are fighting a spot in the Premier League next season.
First Half Worries
Things began nervously for Newcastle, who, in the first half, were certainly facing a lot of pressure from Sunderland and a dreadful home record that has blighted the Tyne Wear Derby for seven matches.
In the opening stages, possession remained with Newcastle but the chances were squandered. Alexsander Mitrovic had a shot fire high over the bar in a good position and Jonjo Shelvey couldn’t capitalise from a free kick in a dangerous area.
The main problem for Newcastle though was the stalwart defending of Sunderland defender, Jan Kirchhoff who plagued the Newcastle midfield consistently in the first half meaning the striving runs of Moussa Sissoko and Andros Townsend were rendered all but useless. With all their control of the ball, Newcastle just couldn’t trouble the Sunderland backline and had their waves of attack repelled one after another.
The Defoe Show
The same problem couldn’t be said for Sunderland however as Jermain Defoe always looked a menace when he was in the box. The derby extraordinaire gave Newcastle goal-keeper Rob Elliot plenty to do, as his presence in the box terrorised the players and fans alike. After numerous attempts on goal, the inevitable goal came for Sunderland and Defoe who volleyed a ball past the wall of the Newcastle bodies to stun the home faithful.
The daunting task in front of Benitez was highlighted and the prospect of relegation ebbed painfully within St James Park. The second half would be the decisive moments of Newcastle’s season.
Building from the first half
Out of the blocks in the second half Newcastle looked revitalised after emerging for the second half.
The closest the home team came to scoring was Ayoze Perez whose volley at the back post was cleared off the line by Yann M'Vila. This was the closest the home side came to a goal and helped to reignite the passions of the fans.
The team in black and white passed with more purpose and started to pass for to the wings which allowed greater space for Townsend and Giorgino Wjinaldum which proved pivotal for the closing sections of the match.
With time starting to slip from grasp and the prospect of equalising becoming less and less likely, the Serbian international was on hand to ensure Newcastle got a point in a vital game after his header flew past Vito Mannone.
In truly dramatic fashion the Magpies had salvaged a scrap from the feast that could have been so fruitful on Tyneside. Though it wasn’t the win the club needed for survival, it ensures that Sunderland remain in touching distance.
Newcastle now have two weeks to prepare for an away game at Carrow Road against Norwich that will be ever so important for their Premier League survival hopes.