Newcastle 1 Sunderland 1: Martin O’Neill bemoans late equaliser
Martin O'Neill admits his disappointment after 10-man Sunderland concede late equaliser to Newcastle at St James' Park
Martin O’Neill has admitted his disappointment that Sunderland missed out on a Tyne-Wear derby victory after Shola Ameobi’s late equaliser rescued a point for Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday.
The Black Cats took a first-half lead through Nicklas Bendtner when the on-loan Arsenal striker confidently dispatched a 24th-minute penalty past Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul.
And the visitors looked destined for three points despite being reduced to 10 men following Stephane Sessegnon’s sending off, before Demba Ba missed a 82nd-minute penalty.
But Newcastle substitute Ameobi levelled in the second minute of stoppage time to rescue a point for the Magpies.
“I am very proud of the team and very disappointed to have dropped the points so late in the game,” O’Neill told ESPN.
“We played brilliantly first half and deserved to be in front. But it is difficult to win a game with 10 men. We defended resolutely and it was a terrific effort.”
Referee Mike Dean handed out eight yellow cards and sent off Sessegnon in a feisty encounter, while Lee Cattermole was dismissed after full-time for remonstrating with the official.
O’Neill conceded that Sessegnon deserved to receive a red card for elbowing Newcastle’s Cheik Tiote, and hit out at captain Cattermole for confronting the referee after the final whistle.
“Stephane Sessegnon’s was a sending-off offence,” added O’Neill. “It handed the intiative to the opposition.
“I did go in to see the referee after the game [about Lee Cattermole’s red card]. You can’t be abusing the referee in any aspect, but there were plenty of mitigating circumstances.
“Cheik Tiote is a fine player but he was very lucky to be on the pitch.”
Meanwhile, Alan Pardew was critical of Sunderland’s physical tactics in the first half, but the Newcastle manager was pleased by his players’ response after the interval.
“In the first half Sunderland came here to upset us and Cattermole set the scene, it was ugly,” he said. “Luckily we got to half-time and got into our players about calming down and playing the game.
“We put them under pressure and sometimes people crack. And when Sessegnon was sent-off it was all us.”