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  • Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle: Nolan back-heel, Gyan freak-goal

    A freak goal by Asamoah Gyan in the last minute of injury time got Sunderland out of jail as they scraped a 1-1 derby draw at home to Newcastle United.
    Kevin Nolan’s clever finish appeared to have given Newcastle a Premier League double over Sunderland but, as five minutes of stoppage time drew to a close, Ghana striker Gyan inadvertently diverted the ball home after Phil Bardsley’s fizzing drive was kept out by Steve Harper.

    The result keeps Alan Pardew’s side ninth, five points behind sixth-placed Sunderland with a game in hand.

    A bright start saw both sides spurn glorious opportunities to take the lead.

    With the memory of Toon’s 5-1 win at St James’ Park still fresh in the memory, a more even game was nearly shaded by the visitors when Nolan backheeled the ball in from close range after Shola Ameobi knocked down a far-post corner from Joey Barton.

    A win would have been deserved for Newcastle who, despite the absence of Andy Carroll, matched Sunderland for attacking endeavour and were superbly marshalled at the back by the excellent Fabricio Coloccini.

    The Black Cats, meanwhile, clearly missed the bite of Lee Cattermole and the spark of Danny Welbeck, both of whom were injured, and were fortunate to force an equaliser after a brief spell of late pressure.

    In the fourth minute Ameobi, who had scored six in the last nine derbies before today, somehow put wide after a glorious pass from the outside of Barton’s right boot send him scuttling clear of the Sunderland defence.

    Soon afterwards Darren Bent missed an equally good chance when, after Steed Malbranque’s pass sent him through, he cut inside Coloccini but fired straight at Steve Harper, who did well with his legs but should not have had a prayer.

    The North East rivals were trading blows like Eighties heavyweight boxers, with Coloccini denied on the line by Keiran Richardson with a low volley after the Black Cats failed to clear a corner, while at the other end Harper palmed away Malbranque’s low drive.

    Ahmed El-Mohammady - who had some early stitches in a mouth wound earned in an aerial clash with Alan Smith - had one shot blocked before Ameobi again missed a good chance, heading over from eight yards at a corner.

    Early in the second half Bent showed his technical deficiency not for the first time in the game when he insisted on using his right foot to lob Harper after Bardsley sent him in, when his left was the better option.

    And it was Newcastle who broke the deadlock when another superb Barton corner was headed down at the far post by Ameobi, climing all over Anton Ferdinand, with the ball rebounding to Nolan who backheeled it in from close range.

    It was a superb, instinctive finish, Nolan’s 10th of the season, and spurred Newcastle on to take more initiative.

    Seconds after the restart, Leon Best - in for the injured Andy Carroll after scoring a hat-trick in the win over West Ham - was inches away from converting a brilliant Jose Enrique cross while for the hosts El-Mohammady’s low shot was diverted inches wide by team-mate Kieran Richardson.

    Best hit the side netting after he sprung the offside trap to reach Danny Guthrie’s pass, but in the latter stages Toon were happy to sit back and absorb the pressure from a Sunderland side lacking in inspiration.

    Sunderland huffed and puffed but Newcastle looked more dangerous on the break and from Barton’s set pieces - indeed, the hosts were so devoid of inspiration that the most likely they looked was when Bardsley punted the ball upfield for Bent to run on to: Harper easily claimed.

    There was a late debut for Dan Gosling, who was injured when he controversially joined Newcastle from Everton in the summer, while the mostly disappointing Gyan flicked an overhead effort well wide after some goalmouth pinball in the Toon box.

    That half-chance arose as five minutes of additional time were signalled, which seemed to spur the hosts into action as they rallied in the closing stages.

    And the sudden vigour paid off as, having been teed up by Jordan Henderson, defender Bardsley unleashed a wicked effort that Harper did well to bat out but was helpless to stop rebounding off the fortunate Gyan, the ball looping up in the air and into the back of the net.

    The away players slumped to the floor, devastated, as Steve Bruce celebrated in relief that an embarrassing double loss was averted at the death.
    Reda Maher / Eurosport


    Team Line-up:

    Sunderland: Gordon, Onuoha, Bramble, Ferdinand, Bardsley, El-Mohammady, Henderson, Richardson, Malbranque, Gyan, Bent; Subs: Mignolet, Zenden, Angeleri, Da Silva, Riveros, Reid, Colback
    Newcastle United: Harper, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Jose Enrique, Barton, Nolan, Smith, Gutierrez, Best, Ameobi; Subs: Krul, Guthrie, Routledge, Lovenkrands, Perch, Gosling, Ranger


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