ALAN Pardew left the Stadium of Light reflecting on what might have been – after an own goal “got Sunderland out of jail”.
Ten-man Newcastle United were within a few minutes of pulling off what he felt would have been a “famous” derby victory.
Leading by Yohan Cabaye’s early goal, Pardew’s side – without the dismissed Cheik Tiote – battled on until the 86th minute before Demba Ba inadvertently directed a John O’Shea header past Tim Krul.
“Forget about the goal in the last five minutes, it kind of got them out of jail, really,” Pardew told the Gazette.
“That would’ve been one of the famous victories. We were brilliant.
“We also offered a threat. Cabaye’s pass and Demba’s touch almost got us the second (goal).
“There would have been no way back for them then. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t get a connection with it.”
Tiote was sent off for a high challenge on Steven Fletcher in the 25th minute, leaving Newcastle to play for more than an hour with a man down.
Reflecting on the game, Pardew went on: “I’ve got to be (happy) – we played 60 minutes at the Stadium of Light with 10 men.
“That’s the best side they’ve had since I’ve been manager.
“I’m gutted they scored so late – we all are.
“With 11 men, we were looking like ourselves.
“That was the first time we had all our players, and we were looking terrific.
“We know what this game means to our fans.
“And the players and staff showed how much it means to us too. We fought with effort and commitment.”
Having run themselves into the ground at the Stadium of Light, United were “wide open” in the last few minutes, admitted Pardew.
“When they equalised, there was still five or six minutes to go,” he said. “We were really open then.
“We were tired, and could hardly move. When you come to the Stadium of Light, you’ve got to come away with the credit, and we’ve done that.”