O'Neill attacks critics
Martin O'Neill has fired a broadside at claims his Sunderland side were overly physical in their derby against Newcastle.
Last Updated: 07/03/12 12:28pm
Martin O'Neill has fired a broadside at claims his Sunderland side were overly physical in their feisty derby against Newcastle.
The sides shared nine yellow cards between them, while Sunderland also had two reds issued by referee Mike Dean during the lively encounter at St James' Park, which ended 1-1.
Stephane Sessegnon was the first to see red following a clash with Cheick Tiote, while Lee Cattermole got his marching orders for his comments to Dean while the teams were leaving the pitch.
But O'Neill insists his side were more sinned against than sinners and hit out at any attempts to suggest anything to the contrary.
"I find it extraordinary that sort of interpretation has been put on the game," he said.
"The first two fouls in the game came inside the first three minutes and they were ours, but the next seven fouls over the next quarter-of-an-hour were all from the opposition.
"At half-time, I think we went in with two yellows and Newcastle with four.
"We also felt that there were a few yellow card decisions in there that Newcastle were lucky to get away with, so how anyone could say we were the dirty side is beyond me.
"I was very proud of my players. We won the first half, had the best chance before the hour in the second-half and then held out successfully for half-an-hour with just 10 men.
"It was terribly unfortunate that we conceded in injury-time, but I don't think anyone could argue that we weren't the better side on the day.
"Well, I say I don't think so - but it wouldn't surprise me if someone tried."