Newcastle ended their 13-year wait to beat bitter rivals Sunderland as Alexander Isak’s double inspired a 3-0 win in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
In the first Tyne and Wear derby since 2016, Eddie Howe’s side put their regional neighbours to the sword thanks to Dan Ballard’s first-half own goal and Isak’s brace after the break at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
Newcastle had lost six of their previous seven clashes with Sunderland, but their composed display neutered the fired-up Black Cats and delivered a first derby success since a 1-0 victory in 2011.
After four successive defeats in all competitions, Howe hoped the derby would be a “season-changing” moment to salve the wounds from their Champions League exit and poor Premier League form.
Whether vanquishing second-tier opponents will prove transformative remains to be seen, but for now local pride was all that mattered to the 6,000 Newcastle fans who waved their black and white scarves in delight at the final whistle.
“We handled the occasion well, were brave with the ball and were very composed. We didn’t let the crowd take over,” Howe said.
“Today will have done us the world of good. It keeps us in an important competition and that brings hope.”
While the northeast rivalry might lack the glamour of the Manchester and north London derbies, there is no questioning the rivalry between clubs separated by just 14 miles.
Encapsulating the enmity was a bizarre incident this week when Sunderland were forced to apologise to furious fans after a stadium bar was redecorated with Newcastle colours in the corporate hospitality section of the visitors’ support.
Newcastle’s fans were taken to the stadium on buses in a huge police convoy, then given their tickets to the match, in a bid to avoid the violent scenes that have marred previous encounters.
Howe had enlisted the help of the few Geordies in Newcastle’s squad to tell the rest of his globally assembled squad just how important the derby is.
The message clearly hit home as Newcastle dominated a frenetic encounter.
Maidstone make history
Amid the sound and fury in the stands, Newcastle kept their nerve and snatched the lead in the 35th minute as Ballard diverted Joelinton’s cross into his own net.
Sunderland gifted Newcastle their second goal less than 60 seconds after the interval when Almiron robbed the dawdling Pierre Ekwah inside his own area and teed up Isak to fire home from 10 yards.
Ballard’s 90th minute foul on Anthony Gordon conceded a penalty that Isak converted to cap the exclamation point on Newcastle’s victory.
Non-league Maidstone United, the lowest ranked team left in the competition, clinched a surprise 1-0 win against Stevenage to reach the fourth round for the first time.
There is a 69-place gap between George Elkobi’s Kent-based club and third-tier Stevenage.
But in their first third round appearance since 1988, the National League South minnows made history as Sam Corne netted a penalty in first half stoppage-time before fans flooded the pitch in celebration at the final whistle.
There were scares for Premier League sides Bournemouth and Brighton before they reached the last 32.
Bournemouth came from two goals down at half-time to win 3-2 at second tier QPR via strikes from Marcus Tavernier, Kieffer Moore and Justin Kluivert.
Inspired by Joao Pedro’s double, Brighton won 4-2 at Championship outfit Stoke despite falling behind early on.
Sheffield United, bottom of the Premier League, cruised to a 4-0 victory at fourth tier Gillingham.
Chesterfield, who sit top of the fifth tier National League, nearly stunned Championship club Watford, taking the lead at Vicarage Road before losing 2-1.
Ten-man Eastleigh, another of the four non-league teams in the third round, earned a creditable 1-1 draw at fourth tier Newport.
World Cup News
/ 3 months ago
FIFA on Saturday confirmed that three bids to host the Women’s World Cup in...
/ 3 months ago
A set of six jerseys that Lionel Messi wore during Argentina’s victorious 2022 World...