Cabaye revels in derby strike
Yohan Cabaye rates his first derby goal as his most important to date for Newcastle.
The 26-year-old Frenchman scored five times for his new club last season, including a stunning free-kick in a 3-0 defeat of Manchester United.
However, he firmly believes that his third-minute strike at Sunderland yesterday, which for so long looked like handing the 10-man Magpies three Barclays Premier League points, was the biggest one yet.
Cabaye said: "For me, it was a great start, and for the team as well. I was really happy to score my first goal of the season and my first derby goal.
"It's the best moment since I came to Newcastle. It was a great moment and when I saw the fans, they were going crazy so for me, it was a really good start.
"I know how important this match is for the club, for the fans, for the city, for everyone who supports Newcastle.
"I play for Newcastle so for me, the goal is really important. It means everything for everyone, and for me."
Cabaye's big moment arrived with the game barely two minutes old when Hatem Ben Arfa capitalised on an error by full-back Danny Rose to feed striker Demba Ba, whose shot was blocked by keeper Simon Mignolet at his near post.
The ball fell perfectly for the France international, who dispatched it unerringly into the bottom corner to get the visitors off to a dream start.
They looked capable of building upon it too as Sunderland laboured in their attempts to find a way back into the game until Cabaye's central midfield partner Cheick Tiote fell foul of referee Martin Atkinson.
Tiote, who has now collected a staggering 29 yellow cards and two reds in just 59 appearances for the club, had already earned a free-kick after Jack Colback had pulled him back, but as the whistle sounded, he careered into striker Steven Fletcher with his boot raised.
He expressed astonishment at being dismissed and manager Alan Pardew thought the ultimate sanction harsh, but significantly, later indicated there would be no appeal.
Pardew said: "We will have to accept the decision. He hasn't intentionally done the guy, for sure, he has just gone for a ball and he is a little bit high."
Even then, the Black Cats were unable to cause too many problems for Newcastle despite dominating possession, and with Fabricio Coloccini outstanding at the back on his return from a hamstring injury and substitute James Perch, who was introduced at the expense of the unfortunate Shola Ameobi, shielding the back four, there was little genuine drama.
However, Coloccini's departure with cramp in both calves came as Sunderland launched their final assault, and his side finally succumbed five minutes from time when John O'Shea glanced a Sebastian Larsson free-kick against Ba and the striker could only look on in horror as the ball sailed past keeper Tim Krul and into the net.
Cabaye said: "Playing one hour with 10 men on the pitch in a derby is difficult.
"The referee decided to send off Cheick, but afterwards, we stayed compact and we fought as a unit, as a team.
"Unfortunately for us, they scored with five minutes to go. We were a bit disappointed, but with 10 men on the pitch, it was a good result for us."
Newcastle have now lost only one league game on Wearside in 32 years, and while they were disappointed not to emerge victorious, a positive result will set them up perfectly for Thursday night's Europa League clash with Club Brugge on Tyneside and West Brom's visit three days later.