NEWCASTLE United drew first blood in this season’s Tyne-Wear clashes with a 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light – despite playing more than 50 minutes of the opening reserve game of the season with only ten men.
Two early goals – the first from Nile Ranger and the second a penalty from Peter Lovenkrands – put United in the driving seat, before Spanish midfielder Xisco was dismissed just before half-time for kicking out at Adam Reed during an off-the-ball-incident.
Lovenkrands’s clever quick free-kick laid on the third for Ryan Taylor before Sunderland, who had earlier twice hit the woodwork and had a ‘goal’ ruled out for offside, scored a late consolation from the penalty spot through Jordan Cook.
Peter Beardsley included veteran summer signing Sol Campbell in the line-up, while Sunderland fans were given their first chance to look at new £2m Argentinian defender Marcos Angeleri.
Those new faces were among a handful of first-teamers in each side, with Taylor, Lovenkrands and Xisco also in the Newcastle starting XI and George McCartney, Andy Reid and Jack Colback on the Sunderland teamsheet.
The visitors created the first meaningful chance of the game in the third minute when Ranger got on the end of Taylor’s right-wing corner and nodded the ball goalwards, but Sunderland left-back Blair Adams had the right-hand post covered and chested the ball off the line before clearing.
But the Black Cats were caught cold on nine minutes as Ranger put United ahead with a move he started and finished.
The powerful striker strode through midfield before releasing Lovenkrands, who miscontrolled, but still managed to take the ball into his stride as he burst into the box to the left of goal and then squared for Ranger, who had continued his run, to sidefoot past the defender on the line from eight yards out.
And Sunderland were still reeling from that blow when United doubled their lead three minutes later from the penalty spot. Ranger it was again who was causing all the danger as he raced into the box down the left-hand channel this time and keeper Trevor Carson came out to dive at his feet, the Northern Ireland Under 21 international’s arm made contact with the striker’s foot and brought him down.
Referee Tony Harrington pointed to the spot and Lovenkrands stepped up to send Carson the wrong way, firing into the bottom right-hand corner.
Sunderland’s best chance of the half came in the 20th minute when Reid drove into the box down the left, his cross was cut out by a defender and Ryan Noble was on it as quick as a flash, but Tim Krul saved his low effort.
At 2-0 Newcastle were in total control but Xisco’s petulance made their night tougher than it needed to be, as he was shown a straight red card.
Sunderland tried to make the most of their man advantage at the start of the second half, and only the woodwork prevented them halving the deficit a couple of minutes after the restart.
Colback found space to shoot from 25 yards out in a central position and his right-foot shot beat Krul but came back off the right-hand upright.
Newcastle added a third on the hour thanks Lovenkrands’ ingenuity – and a lapse in concentration from Sunderland. Carson picked up what was adjudged to be a backpass from Reed, giving United an indirect free-kick six yards out. The keeper handed the ball straight to Lovenkrands and before Sunderland could react, the Dane took the kick quickly, rolling it to the oncoming Taylor who had an easy finish.
Sunderland thought they had pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute when Michael Kay flicked Reid’s right-wing free-kick into the net from close range, but the linesman’s flag had gone up for an offside against the defender.
At the other end, McCartney cleared off the line from Newcastle sub Philip Airey.
Sunderland, though, staged a mini-fightback at the death. First Cook sent Krul the wrong way from the spot after Colback had been brought down by Matthew Grieve three minutes from time.
Then, 60 seconds later, Noble crashed a volley against the left-hand post.
But it was all too little too late for the Black Cats.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Carson, Angeleri (Fletcher 71), Kay, McCartney, Adams, Weir (Luscombe 62), Reed, Colback, Reid (Bagnall 81), R Noble, Cook. Subs (not used): Wilson, Madden
Booked: Carson, Reed. GOAL: Cook
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tavernier, Campbell (Tozer 46), Grieve, Dummett, Taylor, Donaldson (McDermott 81), Inman, Xisco, Lovenkrands (Airey 81), Xisco. Subs (not used): Soderberg, Henderson
Booked: Tavernier Sent Off: Xisco
Goals: Ranger 9, Lovenkrands (pen) 13, Taylor 60
Ref: Tony Harrington (Cleveland) Att: 4601