Sat 6 Jan 2024, 15:17 by Ash Harrison

Sunderland 0-3 Newcastle: What were we even worried about?

Sunderland 0-3 Newcastle: What were we even worried about?
Ian Buist via The Chronicle
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Local derbies have a weird way of getting in your head and this one played so many mind games.

Of course, on paper Newcastle United were by far the superior team. It wasn't even close. But you could say that about the sides that lost six derbies in a row, too. We've always had the better squad, but Sunderland have often found a way to victory.

Today, given Newcastle's poor form and naff record in the FA Cup, nerves were jangling like Christmas bells even though, again, our squad, even as depleted as it is, should have had no issues tearing this Sunderland side apart.

It was never in doubt - honest!

And as it turns out, they absolutely didn't.

The game played out exactly how it should have. A plucky performance by the hosts that ultimately comes to nothing thanks to the gulf in class.

Newcastle were in complete control of the game and in truth, should have scored many more. Miguel Almiron was brilliant, we have to give credit where it's due after slagging him off for the last month.

That's not to say Sunderland didn't have their moments. A brilliant save with his feet by Martin Dubravka sticks in the memory after the initial shot took a deflection off Sven Botman's shin.

Alexander Isak had himself a nice afternoon

But an own goal from Sunderland's best player on the day, Dan Ballard on 35 minutes got the Geordies in the mood. Just 30 seconds into the second half Miguel Almiron pounced on a poor ball out from the back and squared it to Alexander Isak to fire home.

The Magpies had plenty more chances to put the game to bed but it took until a clumsy challenge on Anthony Gordon resulted in a penalty that was tucked away beautifully by Isak on 90 minutes to round off the day.

Newcastle go into the hat for the fourth round while the Sunderland fans, who were already at home by the fire before Isak's penalty hit the net, will just have to sit and write their list of excuses before going to work on Monday.

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