SIMON Mignolet admits he thought he had experienced his Thomas Sorensen moment after denying Newcastle United’s master marksmen from the penalty spot.
Mignolet’s 82nd-minute stop to prevent Magpies top scorer Demba Ba finding an equaliser at St James’s Park yesterday evoked memories of Sorensen’s penalty save in Sunderland’s last victory on Tyneside in 2000 when the Dane famously denied Alan Shearer.
With Sunderland leading 1-0 through Nicklas Bendtner’s spot-kick, and the 10-man Black Cats performing defensive heroics to thwart the hosts, it looked like Martin O’Neill’s first taste of a Tyne-Wear tussle would be a successful one.
But derby nemesis Shola Ameobi broke Sunderland hearts with a leveller in stoppage time, his seventh goal against the Wearsiders, leaving keeper Mignolet to reflect on the merits of a single point gained.
Mignolet told the Gazette: “Yeah, maybe I thought it was going to be the same as Sorensen, because he saved the penalty and Sunderland won the game.
“If we had won, then everybody would have been talking about the penalty save.
“When you see how the game flowed, the way we went in 1-0 in front at half-time and the penalty save, you think it might be your day.
“In the second half, we picked up a quick red card and they got a penalty, and you know it’s going to be difficult.
“But every cross that came in, John (O’Shea) and Turns (Michael Turner) won their headers. Unluckily, we conceded one in the end, but with 10 men it’s not easy.
“Not only those two, the whole back four did well and we defended well as a team.
“I think we dealt with them well all game and obviously we’re a bit disappointed to concede in the last minute.
“But then on the other hand, if you have 10 men and fight as hard as we did, in the end you have to be pleased that you still got a point, rather than losing all three.
“You have to say Newcastle are a decent side and a point against them away from home is not a bad one.”
Mignolet believes Sunderland’s display demonstrated progress in their appreciation of the grit needed to triumph in the derby cauldron after taking just one point from their previous three meetings with Newcastle and visiting Tyneside for the first time since last year’s 5-1 rout.
The Belgian added: “We’ve grown as a team from the experience of the last few derbies. We know what it is to lose there and to lose at home.
“I think that experience we have now, we can use in these games.
“If you see how we’ve grown in the squad since we last went there, all the lads had more confidence and more experience. You could see that with our performance.
“You knew before the game, that it’s a match which is all about emotions and working hard for the badge on your shirt.
“That’s the only thing that matters in a game like this.
“When everything settles down in the next few days, we can be proud of the game we played and look forward to the Liverpool game next Saturday.”