The former Tottenham striker smashed home a sumptuous volley in first-half injury-time to settle a game the Black Cats, who started the day perched precariously above the Barclays Premier League drop zone, dominated to ease themselves three points clear of the chasing pack. Defoe’s effort, which prompted a half-time congratulations from Magpies keeper Tim Krul in the tunnel, provided a moment of exquisite quality for the home fans to celebrate along with a much-needed 1-0 win, but the club’s new head coach was not unduly impressed. The emotions were markedly different in the Tyneside camp with Newcastle head coach John Carver admitting some of his players had not handled the derby pressure. He said: “Well, possibly yes, possibly. Let’s be honest about it, because five in a row is a long run, isn’t it? Let’s be honest. Maybe one or two people can’t handle it. I’m not going to go into names – I’ll leave that to you guys to decide – but it’s a fact, yes. “I am sitting here – do you think I’m embarrassed? I am absolutely embarrassed, yes I am. I am embarrassed to be part of it, yes, but I am a part of it and I have to deal with it.” Newcastle have lost their last four games and have won on two of the 13 they have played in all competitions under Carver, and the 50-year-old admits their own top-flight status is far from secure. He said: “We have only got 35 points – you need 40 points. We have got seven games left. “You are down to the bare bones, you are thinking, ‘Where’s the next point coming from?’. Let’s be honest – and I’m an honest guy – I am thinking that way. But by hook or by crook, we have to turn this around somehow.” Dick Advocaat was in mischievous mood after seeing Jermain Defoe ease the pressure on Sunderland with a stunning winner to condemn Newcastle to a fifth successive derby defeat. Press Association Advocaat said with a smile: “It was an easy goal, an easy shot. He gets paid for that.” He added: “It was not only a fantastic goal – it was an important one, but the way the team played must give them a boost. Not only did they work their socks off to get a good result, but also football-wise it was much better than last week. “Only at the end, Newcastle took all the risk and with the long balls, we had a little bit of a problem, but until the 75th minute, we were the team that dominated the game, controlled the game. But we had to score more goals, that was the only problem.” Sunderland had bossed the first half and although Newcastle were better after the break, rarely looked like surrendering the lead they took in stunning fashion seconds before referee Mike Dean was due to blow the half-time whistle. Costel Pantilimon’s deep free-kick was headed down by Steven Fletcher and Defoe, who had anticipated perfectly, lashed an unstoppable volley past the helpless Krul and into the top corner. It was a goal worthy of winning any game and ultimately it did just that as the home side spurned a series of opportunities to cement victory while Ayoze Perez might have snatched a point his side did not deserve with a late close-range volley. Asked if he was confident he would keep the Black Cats up after steering them into 15th place, Advocaat said: “Hopefully on May 24, we are still there because that’s the most important thing. This helps. “I always have said we will survive, but this is just the first game. But we had to win today because there was a lot of pressure on the team.”
This past weekend, defensive tackle junior Rasheem Green declared for the 2018 NFL Draft. He is the first draft-eligible defensive player on the USC Football team to do so during this off-season.Green’s departure leaves a major hole on the Trojans’ defense. Daily Trojan file photo.The 6-foot-4 Los Angeles native made his presence felt on the defensive line, with 117 tackles, 16.5 sacks, a pair of blocked field goals and even a touchdown via a fumble recovery. Green announced his NFL declaration through Twitter on Jan. 13. “After a lot of careful thought and discussions with my family, trusted friends, and the USC coaching staff, I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility at USC and enter the 2018 NFL Draft,” Green wrote in his tweet. Green also thanked those who have supported him throughout his football career.“I wouldn’t be the player and person that I am without you guys,” Green said. “My three years at USC have been a blessing, and I am forever grateful for the people that I have encountered on this journey.”These last few weeks, the USC Football team has lost a few significant members, including redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold, junior running back Ronald Jones II and junior wide receiver Deontay Burnett. Despite the chain reaction of declarations that occurred after Darnold announced his decision, a few players elected to spend another year sporting the USC colors, including junior inside linebacker Cameron Smith. On Jan. 12, Smith’s junior defensive-mate Iman Marshall announced that he would remain a Trojan for another season. “I came to USC three years ago with big expectations for myself and for this University,” Marshall said. “[I] want to help bring this University back to the top and feel we got a lot more left to accomplish, time to go and get it!”The 6-foot-1, 200-pound cornerback is known for his physical play-style that has resulted in 118 tackles, 17 deflections and six interceptions throughout his football career at USC. Without a doubt, the two returning veteran defenders, Smith and Marshall, will have to serve as leaders for a now offense-depleted Trojan Football team. Fellow defenders, redhsirt junior cornerback Ajene Harris and junior safety Marvell Tell III are also expected to return for their senior seasons.