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Press article:

Spot-on Solano inflicts derby woe on Black Cats - 27/04/2003


Nobby Solano's penalty condemned Sunderland to a 13th successive Premiership defeat as Newcastle re-ignited their Champions League challenge.

The Peruvian struck on 43 minutes after Kevin Kilbane had brought down Craig Bellamy to settle a tight 124th league encounter 1-0 between the Wear-Tyne derby rivals in which Kevin Kyle had an injury time strike ruled out for a foul. Sunderland started at a feverish pace with a vociferous crowd roaring them on, but Jody Craddock found himself on the wrong side of referee Steve Bennett with a minute gone for a late challenge on Shearer. The Newcastle skipper, wearing a protective bandage over the head wound he picked up on Monday, had the ball in the net seconds later after meeting Solano's cross, but the referee rightly ruled that he had pushed Darren Williams.

Sean Thornton was the first Sunderland player to try his luck but he fired wide when well placed, though Shay Given had to be at his best to push a David Bellion effort around the post. Solano then had a golden opportunity to open the scoring after 23 minutes when, after finding Hugo Viana on the left, he raced into the middle to get his head to the Portuguese international's cross but directed his effort well off the mark. United's hopes were then dealt a blow after 26 minutes when Shearer limped off with what looked like a calf muscle strain with Shola Ameobi taking his place. Both sides continued to press and Bellion was unlucky again on 41 minutes when he got on the end of Bjorklund's flick only to see Given pulled off a superb reaction save with Jermaine Jenas bundling the rebound behind.

However, United went in front two minutes before the break when Kilbane tripped Bellamy and with Shearer off the pitch, Solano stepped up to calmly send Thomas Sorensen the wrong way from the spot and net what proved to be the winner.

Newcastle started the second half the brighter and could have extended their lead through Viana and Solano in the opening exchanges. However, the longer the game went on, the more the Black Cats started to press with Kyle and Bellion starting to trouble the visitors' defence. At the other end, Ameobi tested Sorensen with a well-struck right-foot shot on 79 minutes, but Given had to match him at the other end two minutes later to keep out Thornton's dipping free-kick. Given was scuttling across his goal once again with six minutes remaining as another Thornton free-kick dropped just wide, and the game entered a tense final phase with Tore Andre Flo having replaced Julio Arca with Sunderland going for broke. Bellamy should have sealed victory on 87 minutes after Ameobi got away from Craddock, but Sorensen was once again equal to the task. Kyle thought he had levelled in injury time, but referee Steve Bennett blew for a foul by Flo on Given, to the great relief of the men in black and white.

The result lifts Newcastle back up to third after Chelsea were held by Fulham, while Sunderland are left to ponder when they will next get a crack at beating their Tyne-Wear rivals.


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