They say lightening doesn’t strike twice.
That’s what they say... but seven years ago it turned out that – on occasion – it does.
Because a mere 10 months after Paolo’s barmy army (or should that be barmy Paolo’s army) had smashed the mags 3-0 in their own back yard – and one of the 52,000 screaming members of the Jawdee Nation had chinned Bud the Horse (RIP) in retribution – we returned on the Gus Bus to face our 8th placed rivals...
...and repeated exactly the same scoreline.
Following Poyet’s appointment a few months before, we’d picked up a bit – particularly in the Carling Cup. Ten days or so before we’d had that night at Old Trafford, and we headed to Hotch Potch Park off the back of a 1-0 win over Stoke at the Stadium of Light; Johnson with the goal.
All of the talk pre-match talk was on Newcastle’s quest for retribution, and buoyed by the upturn in form – and bolstered by the January arrivals of Marcos Alonso, Santiago Vergini, Ignacio Scocco, Oscar Ustari and Liam Bridcutt – we lined up against Alan Pardew’s side like this:
Mannone, Bardsley, O’Shea, Brown, Alonso, Johnson, Ki, Bridcutt, Colback, Borini, Altidore. Subs Ustari, Vergini, Gardner, Larsson, Giaccherini, Scocco, Wickham.
Making his debut for Sunderland in the defensive midfield role that was critical for Poyet was Liam Bridcutt, who’d arrived only a day or two earlier from Brighton. Bridcutt, whom Poyet had famously said he would sign him for Real Madrid, so highly did he rate him, started comfortably and ended up playing a starring role, prompting and dictating play, making tackles and passing effectively.
In hindsight, he never reached the peak he displayed in this game, but let’s not dwell on that today.
Another who had probably his best game in red and white (well, yellow on this occasion) was Jozy Altidore. While the American always found goals hard to come by, his effort and some of his link up play could never be faulted and Jozy was another to put in a sterling display.
After having the better of the early exchanges – during which Alonso should have scored, heading over from a good position – we took the lead on 19 minutes. Borini fired home in devastating fashion from the spot after Bardsley’s run into the box had been stopped unfairly by Anita.
Johnson doubled the lead minutes later, tapping in after Colback’s shot was saved. Altidore’s flick to set Colback free was immense, and at half time we headed off the pitch with a 2-0 advantage.
Cue the boos.
Second half, we controlled the game – chances game at either end but the only impression on the scoreline came with ten minutes remaining. Borini set up Jack Colback, who fired home left footed, and prompted shushed the mags who were left.
Season tickets and shirts were thrown at Pardew, invaders entered the pitch.
And, after some Poyet led celebrations we headed back home with our third successive league win over them for 91 years.