Sorry was the easiest word for Sunderland after they scraped a draw with a mis-hit in another full-blooded North East battle.
Steve Bruce apologised for his behaviour after Asamoah Gyan's last-gasp equaliser and for his team's woeful performance.
Local enemies: smoke bombs at St Andrew's and tussles on Wearside (inset) as a fan knocks Harper down
Niall Quinn apologised to Steve Harper after the match for one fan's excessive celebrations, which knocked the Newcastle keeper over in his goalmouth. Visiting manager Alan Pardew was just sorry it had all gone wrong in the end.
Bruce's guarantee that his team could not play as badly as they had in the 5-1 reverse fixture defeat came back to haunt him.
They were worse, but this time they got away with it. When Harper spilled Phi l Bardsley's speculative shot, the ball hit Gyan's chest, looped over the Newcastle keeper and crept over the line.
Last-gasp: Asamoah Gyan (second left) beats Steve Harper (floored) to equalise for Sunderland
Bruce said: 'The goal summed up our afternoon. It hit his chest and went five yards away from him.'
'It was a bit lucky, but it counts,'added the Ghana striker. 'I wanted to get the ball with my head but itwas going too fast and hit my chest. I felt great.'
Gyan then disappeared into a hordeof players and fans, while Bruce sprinted down the touchline like amaniac and Sunderland owner Ellis Short repeatedly punched the air.
Bruce said: 'I do apologise for my antics. I looked like some sort of idiot.'
Fox in the box: Kevin Nolan (second left) steals in to score for Newcastle
But one young man jumped over thehoardings and shoved Harper before being escorted away. Bruce lookedready to give the fan a Brian Clough-style clip round the ear.
The Sunderland boss, who had spentmost of the game wearily shaking his head, knew his side had only justescaped the humiliation of a derby double reverse.
Newcastle, having gone ahead throughKevin Nolan, were good value for a win which would have taken themwithin two point s of the neighbours.
Nolan's goal was a neat back-heelafter a Joey Barton corner was headed into his path by Shola Ameobi.Nolan did his chicken dance, Newcastle fans went ballistic.
Derby delight: Newcastle captain Nolan (centre) celebrates with Danny Gutherie (left) and Mike Williamson
And until Gyan's fortunate touch,Sunderland looked unlikely to even manage a shot on target. In betweenthe bloody noses and skirmishes of the first 15 minutes there was somefootball played, but not much and it didn't get any better.
Ameobi miscued a left-foot shot wideafter three minutes and just before the break he failed to direct aBarton corner on target. Newcastle's only other chance from a Bartoncorner which Sunderland failed to clear in a swirling wind.
Tussle: Jordan Henderson (right) challenges Newcastle's Jonas Gutierrez
Fabricio Coloccini got the finaltouch to the loose ball, prodding a low shot which Kieran Richardsontouched behind. It was his only contribution, apart from injuring AlanSmith.
Harper made a smart save with hisfeet when Darren Bent created space from a Bardsley pass and kept outSteed Malbranque's low, near-post shot from Jordan Henderson's corner.
Newcastle were slightly better inthe second half, edging their hosts three-to-one in chances, with LeonBest turning a shot wide and Jose Enrique clipping one over.
Bent, who was starved of any decentservice, had a chance when Bardsley played him through again, but hislob over Harper was off target. Newcastle have still lost only once onWearside in more than 30 years.
And no wonder Pardew was the happierof the two managers, although, like his players, distraught at theresult. His main regret must be that Andy Carroll was not fit.
'He was smarting round the dressingroom desperate to play,' said Pardew. 'But I couldn't have played himwith just one leg. 'It feels like a defeat in the dressing room. Wecontrolled the game.'
Bruce said: 'I saw the likes of JohnMensah and Lee Cattermole wishing the lads all the best before the gameand they would have played.
'We haven't played anywhere near tothe level we have all season in both games and went from back to fronttoo quickly. We are not equipped to play that way but I've built ayoung team and we will learn from it. 'Next season, we can't play asbadly in both derby games.'
Brucie bonus: Sunderland manager Steve Bruce celebrates the equaliser
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