The England Under-21 goalkeeper looked assured and pulled off a string of fine saves but there was nothing he could do to keep out Jack Colback's stunning strike.
The Boro skipper is tipped to join Bolton or Swansea in the summer and he looked every inch a Premier League defender with a performance full of pace, power and determination, epitomised by the brilliant block to deny Michael Turner.
The Arsenal old boy managed to keep James McClean in check, a task which has been beyond plenty of top-flight full-backs.
The centre-half would have scored but for a brilliant save by Simon Mignolet and is starting to look the part in defence after shrugging off a succession of bad injuries.
Newcastle are reported to be interested in the North-East's young footballer of the year and the left-back showed why with an ultra-confident display.
The combative midfielder did his best to knock Sunderland out of their stride but failed to stamp his authority on the game in a crucial zone.
He used to the darling of the Stadium of Light and sadly for Boro he hardly ever looked like giving his team the cutting edge down the left that would have upset the travelling fans.
Watched by Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, the Australian international got better and better as the tie wore on so don't be surprised if he heads to Tyneside in the summer.
The former Darlington striker might have been denied a goal by Simon Mignolet's fine save but he teed up the equaliser and led the line bravely and cleverly on his full debut but squandered a late chance to avoid extra-time.
He was unable to impose himself on the Sunderland back-line as he found himself bullied by the visiting centre-backs in the first half but bounced back with a fine equaliser.
When the Belgian pulled off a brilliant save to deny Seb Hines it suggested that Craig Gordon's days at Sunderland will be numbered but he was let down by his defenders on the equaliser.
The midfielder is a makeshift left-back and it looked like it so he is unlikely to get a look-in when Wayne Bridge is finally handed a starting berth.
The Scotland right-back denied Boro's Tony McMahon an equaliser with a marvellous goal-line clearance and looked Sunderland's most dangerous attacker.
He had been making sure that Sunderland have not been missing Wes Brown or Titus Bramble until he was caught out for Boro's equaliser and then things went from bad to worse for the former Hull defender.
The Black Cats skipper is looking like a shadow of his former self and the way he was brushed aside by rookie Curtis Main for the equaliser was worrying for his own long-term prospects on Wearside.
The Irish winger has been getting rave reviews of late but found himself struggling to outwit Justin Hoyte.
The Swede works hard enough down the right wing but he failed to make possession count and screwed an early chance wide.
The Benin striker was up to his old tricks in deep-lying positions but his final ball was rarely good enough but he stuck at it and was rewarded with an extra-time strike.
He doesn't score that many goals but the way he beat Steele was spectacular and capped a bright, high-energy display as he kept things ticking over in midfield.
He is first and foremost an attacking midfielder but his forays into enemy territory were far too sporadic for his own team's good and stopped Sunderland building up momentum.
The former Manchester United striker struggled to get going in this game now that the adrenalin that accompanied his comeback from injury has worn off.
- C. Ripley
- S. McManus
Did his bit to keep Boro going as his colleagues ran out of steam late on.
- M. Martin
He injected much-needed energy into the Boro midfield.
- B. Ogbeche
The Dutchman has 11 goals to his credit this season but he got nothing right after meandering on as a second-half substitute.
- K. Westwood
The Irishman only came on for Sessegnon to eat up valuable seconds.
Ahmed El Mohamady
Sent on so late in stoppage time to kill the game off.
- A. Reed
- Dong-Won Ji
He looked less mobile and less effective than any of his colleagues but inadvertently still had a hand in the winning goal.
- C. Lynch