Late Borini strike seals derby win.
Substitute Fabio Borini was Sunderland’s Wear-Tyne derby hero as his late stunner earned a thrilling victory over Newcastle at the Stadium of Light.
A tight game was locked at 1-1 when Borini popped up with a superb drive six minutes from time – his first goal for the club.
Steven Fletcher had opened the scoring with a close-range header five minutes in only for Mathieu Debuchy to equalise just before the hour.
But Sunderland held their nerve at 1-1 and, following some canny substitutions from Gus Poyet, cashed in thanks to Borini’s moment of brilliance.
Newcastle keeper Tim Krul was left with no chance as the Italian arrowed a beautifully-hit shot into the far corner to lift the roof off the Stadium of Light.
It was late drama of the highest order.
The win was Sunderland’s second consecutive derby success and came at a vital time in Poyet’s first home game in charge.
The Uruguayan opted to shake things up ahead of his Stadium of Light bow, handing Andrea Dossena his debut at left-back in place of Ondrej Celustka and making three other changes.
Jack Colback, Carlos Cuellar and Jozy Altidore also returned to the side, with Craig Gardner, Valentin Roberge and Emanuele Giaccherini dropping to the bench.
The match kicked off amidst a typically firecracker atmosphere – and the home crowd cranked up the volume even more after seeing their side surge into the lead with a key early goal.
Johnson and Seb Larsson worked a short corner between them, the former’s cross was perfectly measured to the back post and there was Fletcher to rise highest and nod the ball beyond an exposed Krul.
The goal gave Sunderland a platform to build on in the thick of some typically frenetic action.
Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa both fired efforts on goal as the visitors look to respond, but neither were near the target.
Cabaye came closer with a 30-yard free-kick which was well fielded by Keiren Westwood, while his counterpart Krul was also in action with a smart stop at the other end.
The Scot kept his eye on the ball to dispatch a fine half-volley from the edge of the box, and Altidore was unable to force the loose ball back towards goal after Krul had parried.
Anyone expecting a 100mph pace to slow was wrong, and although Newcastle had the better of the possession they were limited to attempts from distance, with Cabaye pulling a shot wide and Ben Arfa firing a free-kick over the top seven minutes before half time.
The high tempo continued after the break but opportunities were few and far between until the Magpies levelled just before the hour. Ben Arfa’s cross-shot fizzed across the face of goal was turned in at the back post by Debuchy, who stole in around the back to squeeze the ball between Westwood and the post.
The equaliser settled the game down a little, with opportunities falling to Larsson and Cabaye at either end, the former just missing the target with a rising drive following a corner.
Poyet made his move, refreshing his side as Borini and Ki were introduced off the bench in quick succession in place of Adam Johnson and Lee Cattermole.
Perhaps foreshadowing his later contribution, Borini came close having only been on the field for a matter of moments.
Debuchy’s slip gifted possession to the Italian to the left of goal, and his drive from a narrow angle squirmed through the legs of Krul, who got just enough on the shot to slow it down and enable him to get his hands to the ball behind him.
Back came Newcastle as Cabaye forced Westwood into a good save down low before Debuchy blasted wastefully wide from a good position after the visitors worked the ball across the face of the penalty area.
Poyet replaced Phil Bardsley with Celustka 14 minutes from time before substitute Shola Ameobi fizzed a shot inches past the post to give Sunderland a nervous moment.
The game – balanced on a knife-edge – was becoming increasingly stretched.
One sensed it would take something special to settle matters – and the magic moment arrived five minutes from time through a Borini thunderbolt which will go down in Wearside folklore.
Altidore cleverly touched Colback’s pass into the path of the Italian, who stormed inside and launched an unstoppable shot into the top corner from just outside the box.
Krul got a touch but the Newcastle keeper had no chance of making the save such was the pace and power behind the effort, which soared into the back of the net.
The strike sparked bedlam inside the Stadium of Light, which crackled with electricity as the Black Cats doggedly stuck to their task as the long seconds ticked by.
There was one scare when an errant John O’Shea header looped over Westwood following Ameobi’s flick-on, but much to the crowd’s relief the Irish stopper managed to drop on the ball almost on the line.
Cabaye shot weakly wide in time added on, but Sunderland stayed strong to record a vital win in style.
- Bardsley (Celustka)
- Cattermole (Ki)
- Johnson (Borini)
- Yellow Fletcher
- Cabaye Yellow
- Sissoko (Cissé)
- Gouffran (Ameobi)
- Remy (Ameobi)
- Ben Arfa