How Sunderland boss Poyet turned to old heads to beat Newcastle United

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EYEBROWS were raised when Sunderland’s team-sheet emerged from the photocopier.

Gus Poyet had reverted to the tried and tested at Swansea and it caused much consternation after the manner of Sunderland’s collapse.

But the Uruguayan was not dissuaded.

Poyet again turned to the old heads today, no matter their lack of match fitness, with Phil Bardsley, Andrea Dossena and Carlos Cuellar forming three quarters of the back four.

Yet there was logic to Poyet’s team selection.

He put players in their natural positions and more tellingly, turned to those capable of battling and scrapping for a result.

In the white-hot cauldron of the Wear-Tyne derby, those characteristics proved to be decisive.

Buoyed by Steven Fletcher’s early goal - the perfect tonic to a week of vitriol towards Poyet’s side - Sunderland hunted in packs, working tirelessly to recover possession and deny Newcastle a moment on the ball.

After denying Newcastle a clear-cut first half opportunity, Sunderland were roared off at the interval.

The second half has traditionally been Sunderland’s Achilles heel during a previously dismal start to the season though.

A hapless 15 of the 20 goals Sunderland had conceded, had come after the break.

When Newcastle equalised against a tiring Black Cats side, there looked to be only one winner on the cards.

But Alan Pardew’s side didn’t push hard enough to get their noses in front; their goal threat restricted to efforts from outside the area.

Sunderland kicked again and Fabio Borini’s stunner prompted the rafters of the Stadium of Light to shake with a combination of relief and unbridled ecstasy.

It was a derby moment for the ages from the on-loan Liverpool striker.

Decades from now, Borini’s strike will still be eulogised, as the Black Cats secured back-to-back wins over the Magpies for the first time since 1966-67.

Perhaps neither he, nor Poyet himself, will quite realise the magnitude of what they achieved today.

But in the context of Sunderland’s season, it could be a momentous moment.