Belfast Telegraph

Sunderland coach Poyet admits to lucky break for last-gasp winner

By Damian Spellman

Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet admitted he was about to take derby hero Adam Johnson off minutes before he struck the goal which secured a fourth successive victory over Newcastle.

The winger converted substitute Will Buckley's lay-off to score the only goal of the game at St James' Park and snatch a 1-0 win with seconds of normal time remaining.

However, Poyet, who maintained his 100 per cent derby record with the Black Cats, which now extends to three games, later revealed Johnson was about to be replaced by Buckley when he changed his mind and withdrew Connor Wickham instead.

The Uruguayan said: "I have to be honest, I was taking Adam Johnson off and for some reason, I didn't. Don't ask me why because I don't know, and luckily enough Jonno scored the winning goal, which is fantastic for us."

"You can call it luck or whatever, but we haven't had too much this year so if it is luck, I'll take it for once. It's not bad."

Johnson's intervention came as Newcastle, looking to avoid a fourth derby defeat on the trot for the first time in their history, were making a final big push in a fiercely-fought contest when Johnson struck.

Up until that point, Sunderland had enjoyed the better of the game, but had squandered a series of gilt-edged chances and had to rely on keeper Costel Pantilimon to keep out goal-bound efforts from Ayoze Perez and Moussa Sissoko.

But as the clock ticked down, Johnson, who had scored at St James' in 3-0 victories in the previous two seasons, held off Sissoko inside his own half before heading upfield to feed striker Steven Fletcher and then making his way into the penalty area to dispatch Buckley's lay-off.

Poyet said: "It's great, it's incredible. When you are on the right side, the good side, you are going to remember it all your life, so it's a special moment for us, a special moment for the club.

Opposite number Alan Pardew finished the game with three strikers and attacking midfielder Remy Cabella on the pitch, but was still unable to force the breakthrough before disaster struck at the death.

"This club wants to see goals. I am never going to be the manager of this football team and accept a draw at home as a positive result regardless of who it is against," he said.

"If we are ever going to lose a game, then we would lose it in that manner, if I am honest, trying to push for a win."

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