Gus Poyet's Sunderland rebirth continues. The Black Cats, in relegation trouble for so much of the season, are slowly working their way out of the drop zone, and they secured another three points with an impressive 3-0 victory today. At St. James' Park. Against Newcastle United. It's probably safe to say that Sunderland fans will be celebrating tonight.
The visitors were the better side from the off and should have gone ahead inside five minutes. The unmarked Marcos Alonso met Adam Johnson's free kick only to power his header over the bar. Minutes later, Fabio Borini missed another grand chance after a sweeping pass from Johnson arced perfectly over the defence to put him one on one against Krul -- needing only a touch, the striker failed to get one and the hosts went unpunished.
But they couldn't hold out for long. After a couple of speculative shots from Davide Santon, Newcastle's resistance finally crumbled. Johnson was again involved, sending Phil Bardsley steaming into the box with a deft chip. The right back's first touch wasn't very good, but Vurnon Anita's attempted intervention was even worse, leaving Bardsley in a heap and the ball untouched. Phil Dowd pointed to the spot, and Borini duly dispatched the penalty past Krul.
It was 2-0 in short order. An excellent flick from Jozy Altidore sent Jack Colback bearing down on goal with just Steven Taylor to beat; the resultant shot deflected off the defender, wrong-footing Krul and forcing him into a weak one-handed parry. Johnson beat Santon to the rebound and slotted into the unguarded net.
The hosts' response was positive, but not enough to overly trouble Vito Mannone. Mathieu Debuchy came closest to scoring, but he saw the ball blasted clear by Bardsley right as he was about to pull the trigger, and Newcastle's other attacks generally seemed to involve running around and hoping Dowd would level the penalty count. It didn't work, although it might have just after the break, when Shola Ameobi was brought down by Liam Bridcutt only for the referee to wave play on.
By then Alan Pardew had added a new face to fray, giving Luuk de Jong his debut in place of the virtually anonymous Sammy Ameobi. The new signing had a positive impact, but the better chances were still coming at the other end of the pitch, where Johnson was running the show. The winger might have doubled his tally after he weaved his way through a trio of mesmerised defenders only for his shot to come back off the foot to the post; Altidore was far less unlucky when he failed to beat Krul one-on-one after being played through by a neat tackle.
It looked as though Sunderland were going to regret wasting their chances to kill off the match as Newcastle hurled bodies forward in an attempt to get back into it. But the visitors replied with a devastating counterattack, with Colback dispossessing Hatem Ben Arfa in midfield and feeding Borini before racing up the pitch and blasting the return past into the top corner to put any question of a Magpies comeback to bed.
All that was left for the Black Cats was to see out the clock and dodge pitch invaders. They managed both with aplomb.
Newcastle United starting lineup (4-3-3): Tim Krul; Davide Santon (Paul Dummett 64'), Michael Williamson, Steven Taylor, Matheiu Debuchy; Vurnon Anita , Chiek Tiote, Moussa Sissoko; Hatem Ben Arfa, Shola Ameobi, Sammy Ameobi (Luuk de Jong 45').
Sunderland starting lineup (4-3-3): Vito Mannone; Marcos Alonso, John O'Shea, Wes Brown, Phil Bardsley; Liam Bridcutt, Jack Colback, Ki Sung-Yueng; Fabio Borini (Craig Gardner 89'), Jozy Altidore, Adam Johnson (Sebastian Larsson 77').
Goals: Borini 19', Johnson 23', Colback 80'.