LONDON: Jermain Defoe’s stunning volley handed Sunderland a record fifth successive derby victory over Newcastle and eased their Premier League relegation fears.
The 32-year-old, the Black Cats’ big-money January signing, thundered home the sweetest of strikes in first-half stoppage time.
He appeared tearful, affected by the emotion of the occasion, at the half-time whistle, and the goal proved all-important in a match Sunderland dominated, with the final whistle that confirmed the 1-0 win bringing relief and celebration.
In the process, Defoe handed new head coach Dick Advocaat victory over the Magpies in his second game at the helm, remarkably a feat also achieved by both his immediate predecessors, Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet.
It was just Sunderland’s third league victory on Wearside this season, and followed an eight-game winless run, but it was one they thoroughly deserved with Newcastle offering little in return as they slipped to a fourth defeat on the trot.
John Carver’s men have been marooned on 35 points since they beat Hull on January 31, and while they should have enough in the bank to avoid being dragged into a survival fight, their season has unravelled alarmingly since Alan Pardew’s departure.
Earlier Harry Kane’s first outing as captain of Tottenham failed to inspire Spurs in a 0-0 draw at Burnley.
A week which began with Kane scoring for England with only his third touch, ended in frustration as Tottenham failed to shine in the sun at Turf Moor.
It was a result which did little for either side – Sean Dyche’s Clarets would have escaped the bottom three had they won, while for Spurs their lingering hopes of a top-four spot look to have evaporated.
At 21, Kane was the youngest player to captain a side in the Premier League this season, but his team-mates did precious little to create any openings for a player who has become such a talisman for English football that he was in demand from the home fans to sign autographs before kick-off.