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Sunderland v Newcastle United - Emirates FA Cup Third Round

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Sunderland fade away on a disappointing derby day!

“A day, and indeed week, that began with so much passion and anticipation has ended with a silent Sunderland whimper,” writes Finlay Anderson, as he reviews a disappointing derby week.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

There was anticipation, fire and red-and-white explosions and an enormous cacophony of noise.

For the first Wear-Tyne derby in almost eight years, this was pretty much the build-up that it deserved.

As mentioned massively before kick-off, these were two teams that have been on very different paths since that final meeting in March 2016.

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

The Magpies have risen from the so-called slumbers of the Ashley reign into a controversial Saudi ownership that has also seen them become one of the top teams in the Premier League over the past year and a half.

Meanwhile, we have been to hell and back: well, the Premier League down to League One and now back up to the Championship.

And when the full-time whistle was blown, there was very little argument that these are two teams at different ends of the quality spectrum.

Newcastle dictated the possession and the tempo of this previously ferocious derby, but the derby sting in the air was squashed from minute one by Eddie Howe’s men.

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Bar the odd tough tackle, the one scuffle in the penalty area and the noise coming from the four sides of the Stadium of Light, you could have barely known that this was a derby.

Instead, it was a match between a Champions League team and a Championship team, and across the entire 90 minutes, so it proved.

Sunderland very rarely got a sniff, and for all fans could dream of one of the biggest Wear-Tyne derby upsets, it was never really to be.

Too many of those in red-and-white went missing at crucial parts in the game. Jobe was rather non-existent in the contest, whilst Trai Hume was far too exposed to Anthony Gordon and Aji Alese vs Miguel Almiron was a major mis-match.

That’s not to say though that we were carved open time and time again, far from it. Defensively, the Black Cats limited the number of chances that the Geordies were allowed, and it was three individual errors that were capitalised on with maximum effect.

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Yes, the cross from Joelinton for the opener was a cross destined for the back of the net; had Dan Ballard not stuck out a loose leg, Alexander Isak would have anyway.

But, the other two were massively avoidable. There’s no world in which Pierre Ekwah should be thinking that he’ll be given space and time to pick out the perfect pass against this high-press Newcastle side, whilst a moment of stupidity from Ballard resulted in the finishing touches of their win.

In the end, it was domination from the local visitors, and the Premier League quality and know-how ultimately told.

If you look at the number of players’ touches across the pitch, it tells its own story. Nazariy Rusyn’s 14 touches in his 85-minute spell proves that exact control, whilst Bruno Guimaraes had 104 touches in the centre of Newcastle’s midfield compared to Dan Neil’s 61 shows just who came out on top of the midfield battle.

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

And so, after weeks of anticipation and controversy and hours of excitement and pride, this proved to be many steps too far, and after a week of pure embarrassment and humiliation, this was a somewhat fitting end.

Thursday’s Black Cats Bar fiasco caused mass uproar amongst fans – too many felt like it was the biggest slap in the face that they could take from a club that misjudged what this occasion meant to the city and the region.

Even across both sides of the divide, this day was one that has been anticipated for the weeks that led up to it, and it was sad just how the week has ended for the Black Cats.

Bonds have been broken, and Sunderland were outdone and outclassed on the pitch.

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Yet, come the full-time whistle, the applause and chants of ‘Sunderland ‘til I die’ showed the pride amidst this humbling derby day defeat.

A day, and indeed week, that began with so much passion and anticipation has ended with a silent Sunderland whimper.

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