Goalscorers: Kieron Dyer 28, Niall Quinn 64, Kevin Phillips 75
Newcastle United: Tommy Wright, Nikos Dabizas, Didier Domi, Alain Goma, Warren Barton, Jamie McClen, Gary Speed, Kieron Dyer, Nolberto Solano, Paul Robinson (Duncan Ferguson 57), Silvio Maric (Alan Shearer 72)
Sunderland: Thomas Sorensen, Michael Gray, Steve Bould, Paul Butler, Chris Makin, Alex Rae, Stefan Schwarz (Kevin Ball 69), Gavin McCann, Nicky Summerbee, Niall Quinn, Kevin Phillips
Referee: Graham Poll, Attendance: 36,420
The Tyne & Wear derby has always been a passionate battle for supremacy and in August 1999, Newcastle United boss Ruud Gullit was under tremendous pressure. His side had made a terrible start to the season, conceding 11 goals in four matches and collecting just one point; a 3-3 draw with Wimbledon days earlier. His next move would ultimately seal his fate.
Captain Alan Shearer had been suspended for the Wimbledon match following a controversial red card on the opening day of the season at home to Aston Villa. He was expected to lead the line for this massive confrontation. However, Gullit incredibly took the decision to bench his skipper along with his strike partner Duncan Ferguson. In came rookie Paul Robinson and the untried Silvio Maric. It was a baffling decision amidst reports of a power struggle for supremacy at the club between the manager and his skipper.
Shearer could only watch on during a match that was played at a high-tempo despite the filthy weather conditions. Newcastle started well and took the lead in the 27th minute. Robinson did a good job in difficult circumstances and he created the opening goal for Kieron Dyer. Dyer, a summer signing from Ipswich Town was played in by Robinson and he chipped the ball over Thomas Sorensen as the Dane came out to block down the angle. It was his first Newcastle goal and good enough to ensure the home side went into the half-time interval 1-0 ahead.
It was the fourth time in a row that Newcastle had led a match this season and on all three previous occasions, they’d thrown away that position. The crowd must have feared the worst then when Sunderland equalised midway through the second half. The towering presence of Niall Quinn was too much for Newcastle’s defenders. His header flew into the back of the net from Nicky Summerbee’s free-kick delivery.
By now, Shearer had been thrown on by Gullit as he finally withdrew Maric who looked completely overawed by the occasion. Less than two minutes after the change, Sunderland were ahead through a wonderful moment provided by Quinn’s strike partner, Kevin Phillips. Back-up goalkeeper Tommy Wright came out from his goal to smother Phillips’ first attempt at goal. The ball returned to Phillips and he produced a swerving lob from an improbable angle that beat Wright all ends up and ended in the top corner.
Although Kevin Ball almost spared the Magpies’ blushes with a spectacular own goal in the final moments, Newcastle general response after going behind was lacklustre. Sunderland had the bragging rights and Gullit was out of a job. He resigned two days later. Sir Bobby Robson was his successor and guided the club to a safe mid-table finish, whilst getting Shearer back in the goals.
This was Sunderland’s night. It was the evening where Ruud Gullit gambled and lost big time.