Newcastle fans should be relieved that the young Dutchman has committed his long-term future to the Toon Army by signing a new five-year deal because he is a formidable last line of defence.
The Italian will not remember his first ever Tyne-Wear very fondly because the intensity of the occasion seemed too much for him and after a poor first-half he was subbed.
The Newcastle skipper showed why the club were so keen to get him to sign a new four-year contract with a typically cool, calm and collected performance.
He will be haunted for a long time by the penalty that he gave away by shirt-pulling and it could spell the beginning of the end of his time on Tyneside.
This jack of all trades never seems to let his team down and his set-pieces are always top-notch.
He is trying to win himself a new contract and will have done his prospects no harm at all with a committed performance.
He was as combative as ever but this game also required guile from the Ivory Coast international and he failed to provide it.
He worked tirelessly down Newcastle's left wing but failed to provide the inspiration his team needed to break down a resolute defence.
His influence in the midfield trenches was curtailed by an early booking for a needless foul.
His penalty miss will give him sleepless nights but he always looked dangerous and the fact he was denied by the crossbar early on suggested it would not be his day.
The game passed by Newcastle's new No.9 who struggled to get into his first Tyne-Wear derby.
His penalty-saving heroics - that capped a polished show - seemed certain to guarantee the Belgian a place in Mackem history and a famous win until the late equaliser.
He just seems to be getting better and better at left-back which means Wayne Bridge must be wondering why he headed to Sunderland on loan from Manchester City.
He won what appeared to be the decisive penalty and looked steady throughout even when Sunderland were up against it.
He overcame a shaky start to impose himself on the Newcastle attack with a performance that was reminiscent of his best days in a Manchester United shirt.
If he was not so careless in possession then he would be some player because there can be no faulting his commitment although that is not enough.
He kept his head when everyone around him was losing theirs and his disciplined show put Sunderland on the front foot early on.
He sparked a 21-man melee by clattering into Danny Simpson to earn his first ever booking and failed to justify the rave reviews coming his way with a display you would associate with a one-trick pony.
It might sound odd but the 43-second booking he received proved to be a blessing in disguise for the skipper because after his early misdemeanour he settled down and imposed himself but was sent off after the final whistle for dissent.
Sunderland's pocket-rocket failed to really get going and his frustration boiled over when he elbowed Cheick Tiote in the face and was sent off in disgrace.
The Swede is a constant menace at set-pieces and for once his wing play was impressive as he worked up and down the line with a boyish enthusiasm and generally used possession well.
He has struggled to settle on Wearside but his penalty has ensured him a place in Black Cats hearts and may yet see the on-loan Arsenal player kick on at Sunderland.
- 35 R. Elliot
- 14 J. Perch
- 8 D. Guthrie
H. Ben Arfa
The mercurial Frenchman gave Newcastle a much-needed boost after coming on as a second-half substitute with some dazzling play.
- 25 G. Obertan
There is something about these games that brings the best out of the striker because this was his seventh goal in Tyne-Wear derbies.
Sent on late on as Newcastle threw caution to the wind.
- 1 C. Gordon
- 12 M. Kilgallon
Sent on late on after Richardson hobbled off and was caught out for the equaliser.
- 18 D. Meyler
- 15 D. Vaughan
He did his bit to keep Newcastle at bay with an energetic show.
He did his best to let Newcastle back into the game with a reckless lunge for the penalty.