After the storm that greeted his appointment as Sunderland boss, this was a pretty good way for Paolo Di Canio to enhance his popularity with the club’s fans.
Sunderland eased their Premier League relegation fears with a stunning 3-0 win away to local rivals Newcastle United in Di Canio’s second game in charge.
The first was a hard-working but slightly unlucky 2-1 defeat to Chelsea last Sunday. This was a huge victory that puts Sunderland three points clear of 18th-placed Wigan.
Derbies demand passion, and Di Canio certainly delivers. On the touchline he was as animated as some of Newcastle’s players.
Stephane Sessegnon opened the scoring from distance after 27 minutes and strikes from Adam Johnson and substitute David Vaughan in the final sixteen minutes put shine on the scoreline. Newcastle, now two points above Sunderland, had a Papiss Cisse effort contentiously ruled out for offside with the score at 0-1.
It was Sunderland’s first win at St James’s Park since November, 2000, and their biggest at that stadium since February, 1979.
“Our plan worked extremely well, hitting Newcastle on the counter-attack. We were so disappointed with our second-half display against Chelsea last week when we gave two sloppy second half goals away,” said Sunderland captain John O’Shea, according to the BBC.
“This is for the previous manager [Martin O’Neill] as well. The new manager has come in, and a new manager always has a positive effect. You can see what type of character he is on the sidelines. This result is a massive step in the right direction, but we’ve got five more massive games to come.”
Next up for Sunderland: a home game with Everton on Saturday. Then come two intriguing fixtures against relegation-threatened clubs: away to Aston Villa and at home to Stoke City.