Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill hits back at claims of rough tactics against Newcastle United in Tyne/Wear derby

FOCUSED ... Martin O'Neill, with Newcastle boss Alan Pardew in the background, during Sunday's Tyne/Wear derby.
FOCUSED ... Martin O'Neill, with Newcastle boss Alan Pardew in the background, during Sunday's Tyne/Wear derby.
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MARTIN O’Neill has hit out at claims that Sunderland employed rough-house tactics against Newcastle United on Sunday, writes Graeme Anderson.

The Black Cats’ boss held his Press conference earlier in the week this week in order to contradict some of the spin being put on events over the weekend – in particular, the suggestion Sunderland were overly physical.

He said: “I find it extraordinary that sort of interpretation has been put on the game.

“The first two fouls in the game came inside the first three minutes and they were ours, but the next seven fouls over the next quarter-of-an-hour were all from the opposition.

“At half-time, I think we went in with two yellows and Newcastle with four.

“We also felt that there were a few yellow card decisions in there that Newcastle were lucky to get away with, so how anyone could say we were the dirty side is beyond me.”

O’Neill also hopes Tyneside’s claims do not overshadow the fact that Sunderland went to the home of their rivals and were the better team.

“I was very proud of my players,” he said.

“We won the first half, had the best chance before the hour in the second-half and then held out successfully for half-an-hour with just 10 men.

“It was terribly unfortunate that we conceded in injury-time, but I don’t think anyone could argue that we weren’t the better side on the day.

“Well, I say I don’t think so – but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone tried!”

* Full story in tomorrow’s Sportmail.