x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Di Canio delighted to get off the mark as Sunderland humble arch rivals

Paolo Di Canio dedicated a stunning 3-0 derby victory at Newcastle United to his late mother after Sunderland enhanced their prospects of Premier League survival.

TOPSHOTS
Sunderland's Italian manager Paolo Di Canio celebrates after his team scored the first goal against Newcastle. Ian Macnicol / AFP
TOPSHOTS Sunderland's Italian manager Paolo Di Canio celebrates after his team scored the first goal against Newcastle. Ian Macnicol / AFP

NEWCASTLE // Paolo Di Canio dedicated a stunning derby victory at Newcastle United to his late mother after Sunderland enhanced their prospects of Premier League survival.

The 44-year-old Italian celebrated on his knees as Sunderland romped to a 3-0 win at St James' Park, their first in their rivals' territory in 13 years and just their second anywhere in 17 attempts.

The triumph ended a run of nine league games without a victory and lifted the club three points clear of the relegation zone with five matches to play.

Asked if that was how he had dreamt the first derby encounter of his reign would be, Di Canio said: "Can I tell you something?

"Sometimes, some special things have to remain inside yourself. It's not good to share with others because it's very deep inside yourself.

"But I believe in this thing. Before the kick-off, I saw the face of my mama smiling. Exactly yesterday, it was one year since she passed away.

"Exactly one year ago, there was the same situation. I was in the dugout the day after she passed away and we won the game - I was at Swindon - and, today, it has happened again.

"For this, I have to thank not only my mama, otherwise my dad; he is next to her."

Sunderland took the lead on 27 minutes when the impressive Stephane Sessegnon was allowed to work his way into a good position before dispatching a low drive past Tim Krul into the bottom corner.

Newcastle thought they had levelled on 61 minutes when Papiss Cisse rifled home, only for an incorrect offside flag to halt his celebrations.

But the game was effectively over with 16 minutes remaining when Adam Johnson fired past the substitute goalkeeper Rob Elliot. The latter replaced the injured Krul who, it was later confirmed, had suffered a dislocated shoulder following a collision and will miss the rest of the season.

David Vaughan added the third goal with a fine strike eight minutes from time.

Di Canio was pleased by the way his game plan was carried out by the players, but warned them against complacency.

He said: "We are on 34 [points] now, we are not safe, but it's obvious that it was a fantastic result for everybody."

The Italian attended the post-match press conference with the evidence of his Jose Mourinho-like slide across the St James' turf clear for all to see.

Di Canio said: "It's the second pair of trousers I have lost - but I would like to lose my trousers every weekend. I would lose all my money, to be honest. I wanted to go further, but I couldn't because I am too old. I have only 20 yards in my legs now; that's why I fell down."

Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, was understandably subdued after a game which saw his side fail, spectacularly, to claim a fifth successive home league victory.

He said: "We will have to wear it, probably next year, as well. That's what happens when you lose one of these games.

"We are under no illusions as to the responsibility we have to our fans, and we have let them down today 100 per cent."

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