LONDON (AFP) - Sunderland swept to a record sixth successive Premier League triumph over bitter rivals Newcastle as Fabricio Coloccini's controversial dismissal sparked the hosts' 3-0 win at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
However, there might have been a totally different outcome if Newcastle had capitalised on their early domination before a goal in the closing moments of the first half that transformed the match and will be debated in the North East corner of England for a long time.
Newcastle had more than one reason to be aggrieved over the incident that shaped the outcome.
It came from a penalty awarded in stoppage time when Newcastle defender Coloccini blocked Steven Fletcher as the Sunderland striker tried to reach a through ball.
Whether referee Robert Madley was right to award the spot-kick converted by Adam Johnson was highly debatable, but the red card shown to the centre-back was certainly harsh since goalkeeper Rob Elliot looked certain to reach the ball ahead of Fletcher.
Coloccini's anger over the red card was only matched by Newcastle's fury at Madley's failure to spot Lee Cattermole's reckless challenge on Aleksandar Mitrovic seconds earlier in the other penalty area.
Billy Jones and Fletcher added further goals for Sunderland in the second-half to ensure that Sam Allardyce would be their fourth successive manager to win this derby in his second match in charge.
And to make the derby success even sweeter for Sunderland's players and fans, their first league win of the season lifted them above Newcastle on goal difference, although both remain in the relegation zone.
It was a painful afternoon for Newcastle, who had scored six times in a victory over Norwich in their previous match.