Homegrown hero saves Magpies
Shola Ameobi scored a stoppage-time equaliser as Newcastle salvaged a 1-1 draw at home with Sunderland in a typically tempestuous derby.
Last Updated: 04/03/12 3:36pm
Shola Ameobi scored a stoppage-time equaliser as Newcastle United salvaged a 1-1 draw at home with Sunderland in a typically tempestuous North East derby.
The homegrown striker pounced to earn the Magpies a point after Demba Ba's miss from the penalty spot appeared set to give the Black Cats revenge for defeat at the Stadium of Light back in August.
Nicklas Bendtner's first-half penalty had given the visitors the lead and referee Mike Dean's busy afternoon produced a raft of yellow cards before Stephane Sessegnon was sent off before the hour mark.
A flurry of six bookings, started by Lee Cattermole's caution inside the opening minute for a crude challenge on Cheick Tiote, preceded Sunderland's opening goal on 24 minutes.
Mike Williamson was yellow carded for blatantly tugging Michael Turner's shirt in the area and Bendtner, sporting a protective face mask, stepped up to convert the penalty.
The temperature dipped slightly for the remainder of the first half and Newcastle came close to a leveller just before the break when Demba Ba's header came back off the bar.
Sunderland attacker Sessegnon was sent off for flinging his arm into Tiote's face on 58 minutes, moments after Martin O'Neill's side had missed a golden chance to score a second goal.
The Magpies then fluffed their own opportunity to score after Ba's penalty was excellently saved by Simon Mignolet following Fraizer Campbell's ill-judged challenge on fellow substitute Ameobi.
Newcastle's late onslaught brought an equaliser in the 91st minute when Ameobi squeezed the ball home at the far post before Cattermole was shown the red card by Dean after the final whistle.
Sunderland manager O'Neill, who was involved in angry exchanges with counterpart Alan Pardew on several occasions during a pulsating encounter, could only look on as his first derby ended with contrasting emotions.
The Black Cats have not fared well on Tyneside in recent seasons - they had not tasted victory at the home of their old foes since November 2000 - and went into the game with only one win in the last 14.
However, from the moment Cattermole senselessly careered into Tiote with just 40 seconds gone, it was they who largely set the tempo in a first half which, if not one for the purists, was nevertheless absorbing.
Amid a cacophony of noise from a packed house, the visitors enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes with Cattermole and Craig Gardner eclipsing Tiote and Yohan Cabaye in the middle of the field to allow Sebastian Larsson and Sessegnon to feed lone striker Bendtner.
However, it was referee Dean who proved the central character as he slipped further in the estimation of the locals.
Dean failed to send off Chelsea's David Luiz for a clear red card offence in December and, having already handed out five cautions inside the opening 23 minutes, he awarded the Black Cats a penalty as Williamson pulled Turner's shirt in the area as the pair jockeyed for position under Kieran Richardson's free-kick.
It took several seconds for the travelling fans high up in the stands behind Mignolet's goal to understand what had happened, but their joy increased markedly when Bendtner slid the spot-kick beyond Krul's dive to open the scoring.
Aggrieved as they were, the Magpies simply could not respond and Krul had to make a fine save to keep out Bendtner's powerfully-struck shot on the turn 13 minutes before the break, and was grateful to see Gardner's deflected effort drop just over his crossbar three minutes later.
However, Newcastle finally found their feet and might have been level six minutes before the break had Mignolet not managed to beat away skipper Fabricio Coloccini's firm header from a Ryan Taylor corner.
They went even closer in the final minute of the half when Ba met another Taylor corner at the near post and thumped a header against the bar.
The home side were themselves appealing for a penalty in injury-time when Ba went down under John O'Shea's challenge, but nothing was given.
Pardew made a change at the break when he replaced left-back Davide Santon with Hatem Ben Arfa and asked Taylor to slot back into the defence.
Newcastle immediately had a new momentum and they went close twice within seconds as Ba glanced a header across goal and then fired just wide after turning Turner 20 yards out.
However, it took a fine double save by Krul to deny first Larsson and then James McClean as the home side were caught on the counter with 57 minutes gone.
But Sunderland's task increased in difficulty seconds later when Sessegnon was dismissed for lashing out at Tiote, although with Turner and O'Shea defending doggedly, they were managing to hold firm, if at times at full stretch.
It took a fine save by Mignolet to deny Ben Arfa after he had cut inside from the left with 13 minutes remaining, and the Frenchman was convinced he should have been awarded a penalty two minutes later after he went to ground under McClean's challenge.
The referee did, however, point to the spot once again with eight minutes remaining after Campbell had tripped fellow substitute Ameobi.
Ba stepped up in anticipation of his 17th goal of the season, but saw Mignolet dive to his left to make a superb save.
However, there was nothing the Belgian could do to deny Ameobi when he stabbed home at the far post after Williamson had flicked on Cabaye's cross to spare Ba's blushes.