A Nicklas Bendtner penalty gave the visitors the lead but Ameobi's late leveller spared the hosts blushes after Stephane Sessegnon was sent off and Demba Ba missed a penalty.
Newcastle named the same eleven which drew with Wolves, with Sengalese strikers Ba and Papiss Cisse leading the line for the Geordies.
Sunderland's only change from their 4-0 defeat at West Brom was Danish international striker Bendtner coming in, meaning Jack Colback had to settle for a place on the bench.
The precedent for how the game would play out was immediately set by Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole who was booked inside the first minute for a bad lunge on Cheikh Tiote.
Early on both teams struggled to get any rhythm in their play with bad tackles coming in at regular intervals. After Yohan Cabaye was booked for a late tackle, James McClean went in late on Danny Simpson, prompting both the Newcastle fans and Simpson to react. Both players were booked as a result.
When a chance finally presented itself it came from the penalty spot. A tug by Mike Williamson on Michael Turner from Kieran Richardson's free kick was spotted by referee Mike Dean and he pointed to the spot. The returning Bendtner converted into the bottom left hand corner, giving the men from Wearside an early lead in the 24th minute.
Suddenly the away side were in control of preceedings and nearly doubled their lead in the 32nd minute. A confident Bendtner majestically controlled a lofted free kick and unleashed a sharp shot which Krul did extremely well to get down too.
Sunderland’s dominance continued as a cross in from the left into the box by Richardson was met by Stephane Sessegnon who calmly played the ball back for Craig Gardner, but the midfielder's shot was deflected over the bar.
Newcastle had to wait 39 minutes to forge their first opening. Cabaye’s corner was met strongly by Fabricio Coloccini but his header was well saved by Simon Mignolet.
The home side’s confidence began to rise and they were unlucky not to be level moments before the break. A hopeful cross into the box broke out to Ryan Taylor whose shot was well blocked. From the resulting corner Ba was desperately unlucky seeing his thumping header smash into the crossbar.
Luck also benefited the away side when a push in the back by John O’Shea on Ba inside the penalty area wasn’t penalised by Dean.
Feeling aggrieved to be behind, the men from Tyneside started the second half on the front foot with a Ba header just going past the post.
Sustained pressure from the Geordies was nearly rewarded when a delivery into the box struck Turner, who was subsequently relieved to see the ball just go past the post.
With Newcastle not taking chances their bitter rivals nearly put the game out of their reach. A smart pass into the box from Bendtner found Larsson who was denied by Tim Krul. The rebound fell for McClean who like Larsson failed to beat the Dutchman.
The momentum had shifted back to the men in red and white yet a moment of stupidity changed course of the game. Battling for the ball Sessegnon directed an elbow at Tiote who fell to the ground. The Benin international was swiftly given a red card with just over 30 minutes of the game still remaining.
Sunderland’s battle to hold onto their lead with ten men began relatively comfortably but as the game drew to a close the Magpies started to create chances. The introduction at half time of Hatem Ben Arfa had given the home side an added spark and he was unlucky to see his effort palmed away by Mignolet.
Desperation inside the stadium was demonstrated as the home fans appealed for several penalties. Dean first waved away protests after the home fans thought O’Shea had handled in the area and then after Ben Arfa went down weakly in the area.
Finally though the Newcastle fans had their prayers answered as Dean awarded a penalty when substitute Ameobi was recklessly brought down by Frazier Campbell. However their delight soon turned to despair as Ba’s effort was saved down low by Mignolet.
It seemed as if the Mackems would survive and take all three points but in stoppage time the equaliser finally came. A cross was flicked on right into the path of Ameobi who made no mistake in guiding the ball home.
Roared on by their fans Newcastle continued to press but a series of clearances meant the spoils were shared, and Cattermole too saw red after the whistle as the two teams made their way off the field.