* Sunderland grab late winner at Newcastle (Adds quotes)
LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Adam Johnson’s late winner earned Sunderland a 1-0 victory over his boyhood team Newcastle United in a riveting Premier League Tyne-Wear derby at St James Park on Sunday.
With a minute remaining, and just after Moussa Sissoko had almost won it for hosts Newcastle, Johnson slammed a shot past keeper Jak Alnwick to wrap up a fourth successive win for Sunderland in the fixture.
Johnson has scored on his last three visits to Newcastle and his goal earned Sunderland a third league victory of the season to lift them to 14th place with 19 points.
Newcastle, who have lost three matches in a row in all competitions since beating leaders Chelsea, are ninth on 23.
“We’ve won three years in a row now, they must hate me here, three wins, three clean sheets,” Johnson told Sky Sports.
“It’s a personal favourite of mine coming to play here, it’s a great atmosphere and the crowd all seem to rise to the occasion. I missed a chance earlier and I would have been devastated if I’d missed that one at the end.”
A typically feisty affair came to the boil quickly with two yellow cards inside 10 minutes.
Sunderland’s Sebastian Coates was the first after a foul on Ayoze Perez and was joined by Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini, who sank his knee into the back of Connor Wickham.
Sunderland had the better of the first half and Wickham wasted a glorious chance to put them ahead when Johnson’s free kick found him unmarked at the back post but he headed wide.
Steven Fletcher hit the bar for Sunderland with a stretching volley from Sebastian Larsson’s lofted pass.
Perez curled a shot just beyond the post for Newcastle but the hosts struggled to get a clear sight of goal.
Sunderland’s profligacy carried into the second half with Jordi Gomez firing over the bar with time to pick his spot.
That miss came while Newcastle were temporarily down to 10 men after defender Steven Taylor head-butted a post after a desperate clearance, although he re-emerged battered and bruised.
Perez forced a fingertip save from Sunderland keeper Costel Pantilimon with a curler while minutes later Sissoko narrowly failed to connect when Sammy Ameobi played the ball across goal.
Pantilimon tipped a thunderous Sissoko drive over the bar but Sunderland then broke down the other end and Will Buckley played in Johnson for the winner. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Alan Baldwin)