Newcastle romp to victory
London - Newcastle romped to a 5-1 victory over Sunderland in the Tyne and Wear derby on Sunday as the Black Cats suffered a halloween horror show.
A hat-trick from captain Kevin Nolan and two goals from striker Shola Ameobi completed an emphatic derby win at St James Park which went some way to easing the pressure on Newcastle manager Chris Hughton.
A miserable afternoon for the Black Cats also saw former Newcastle defender Titus Bramble given a straight red card early in the second half for a trip on Andy Carroll, much to the delight of the Toon Army.
The victory saw Newcastle move up to seventh place in the Premier League standings with 14 points from 10 games and should quell intense speculation prior to the game that Hughton faced the sack.
"It was a wonderful team performance with some outstanding individual performances," said Hughton, who admitted he was grateful for Newcastle supporters who chanted his name throughout the match.
"It means a lot but for me it's not the most important thing - the most important thing is seeing this group of players really want to do well," Hughton told Sky Sports.
"For me the best thing is to see these players doing well. There's no doubt this group of players want to do it for themselves but they also want to do it for this football club."
Nolan struck in the 26th, 34th and 75th minutes while Ameobi slotted goals in each half to leave Steve Bruce's Sunderland shellshocked.
Nolan's first came from a Newcastle corner swung into the box. Ameobi beat Sunderland's defence to knock down, and Nolan, with his back to goal and sitting almost on the turf, hooked in a superbly improvised overhead kick.
Eight minutes later Newcastle doubled their lead through Nolan, the Magpies' skipper suddenly finding himself unmarked and in acres of space after a miscued Joey Barton volley fell kindly in the Sunderland area.
Ameobi buried a penalty on the stroke of half-time after Nedum Onuoha had brought down Jonas Gutierrez in the box.
Bramble's dismissal on 53 minutes early in the second half left Sunderland with no way back and with the Black Cats in disarray, Newcastle added to their agony with two more goals.
Ameobi made it 4-0 on 70 minutes, volleying in acrobatically after Carroll's diving header crashed off the bar.
All that was left was for Nolan to complete his hat-trick, which he duly did 15 minutes from time, connecting with an Ameobi header from point-blank range.
Bent turned in a goal for Sunderland on the stroke of 90 minutes but it barely qualified as a consolation effort.
In the other early game on Sunday, Aston Villa and Birmingham ground out a goal-less draw at Villa Park in another feisty local derby.
Birmingham were left fuming after having strong appeals for a penalty turned down when Villa captain Nigel Reo-Coker appeared to handle in the area.
But neither side could engineer a breakthrough as the match ended in stalemate, leaving Villa and Birmingham stuck in 12th and 13th spot respectively after playing 10 games each.
Liverpool face Bolton at the Reebok Stadium in Sunday's other match.