DAILY MIRROR (Simon Bird)
GRAEME SOUNESS greeted the final whistle yesterday like a man reprieved after one of the finest North-East derbies in living memory.
Sunderland were on top after the break but succumbed to a brilliant Emre free-kick that only just eclipsed the visitors’ strikes for distance and thrill value.
Newcastle were clinging on at times and needed the help of the crossbar, and the help of referee Rob Styles to wave away a penalty appeal.
Home fans were still celebrating when Sunderland levelled. It was hard to choose which of their two strikes was the most impressive.
After the break Sunderland who had the better efforts which subdued St James’ Park until Emre’s 63rd-minute clincher.
Both sides deserve praise. This was pure entertainment. It was North-East football and the Premiership at its best.
DAILY TELEGRAPH (Rob Stewart)
Newcastle prospered without the services of their £17 million striker but only after lowly Sunderland had given them an almighty run for their money.
Ameobi headed in Emre’s corner in the 33rd minute after losing marker Andy Gray.
Ameobi jostled for N’Zogbia’s cross with erstwhile colleague Caldwell and the ball seemed to hit the striker’s arm before going in courtesy of a deflection off the Scot.
Elliott took advantage of questionable Newcastle defending, beating two men before curling a 20-yard shot beyond Given.
Lawrence had seen a shot cleared off the line by Taylor before Elliott came within a whisker of equalising in the 83rd minute when he was left unattended in the penalty box with just Given to beat.
Ameobi twice gave Newcastle the lead in the first half, only to see the Black Cats hit back immediately both times with long-range efforts.
Sunderland had legitimate penalty appeals turned down and Elliott saw an audacious lob seven minutes from time beat Given but crash back off the bar.
Elliott chased a flick-on and thundered a left-foot rocket into the top right-hand corner.
Lawrence was unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty following an N’Zogbia challenge, while Elliott saw a fine lob over Given hit the crossbar.
THE TIMES (George Caulkin)
Only the most myopic would have claimed that Sunderland fully warranted their fate.
Souness had the grace to concede, “the second half belonged to Sunderland”.
Emre hung about for long enough to score against the run of play.
Sunderland were apoplectic, especially after Lawrence tumbled in the penalty area under close attention from the fearless N’Zogbia. “There was more chance of me getting home under my own steam by flapping my arms than us being awarded that,” McCarthy said.
THE INDEPENDENT (Jon Culley)
Newcastle achieved supremacy but only after Sunderland, rather cruelly, had been denied a seemingly legitimate penalty claim.
There was also the knowledge that Newcastle’s second goal had in fact made contact with Steven Caldwell’s head rather than any part of Shola Ameobi’s anatomy.
Sunderland gave an impressive account of themselves. Whitehead directed operations with considerable authority from the back of midfield. He was booked in the first minute but did not allow his performance to be compromised.
Sunderland’s defence somehow allowed Ameobi a free header even with everyone in the penalty area, but the goals with which Lawrence and Elliott replied were of high quality.
THE GUARDIAN (Michael Walker)
It would be stretching credulity to say that Newcastle deserved all three points.
Sunderland’s performance merited a draw. Playing through the excellent Dean Whitehead, the visitors out-passed United in the second half.
Souness refused to use the word “relief” afterwards but his demeanour on the touchline, and that of his backroom staff, said otherwise.
Whitehead was booked quite correctly for the challenge on Emre but he retained his discipline thereafter and he and the Turk were the best two players on the pitch.
Lawrence skipped away from Parker and delivered a shot that beat Given from 25 yards. Awe and shock cascaded from Gallowgate.
Elliott collected a header from Whitehead, shrugged off Parker’s tackle and struck an unstoppable shot into Given’s top right-hand corner.