The ex-Blues' midfielder struck against his former side to earn the spoils for the Black Cats and secure a second consecutive home win over the champions after success last season
Adam Johnson upset his former employers by scoring the only goal in Sunderland's surprise win over Manchester City.
Johnson’s goal earned the Black Cats a deserved victory, but City goalkeeper Joe Hart will be bitterly disappointed that he was unable to keep the near-post shot out, as his side slipped up in their duel with Manchester United at the top of the table.
Both teams made just one change, as fit-again captain Vincent Kompany replaced Karim Rekik, while Matthew Kilgallon chosen over the absent John O'Shea.
The visitors would have felt slightly aggrieved to be going into the half-time break with the game deadlocked, having created the better chances in the opening 45 minutes.
Indeed, they had the first real chance of the game after 10 minutes, when fit-again captain Vincent Kompany headed against the crossbar from a David Silva corner, with Yaya Toure’s subsequent effort being scrambled clear by the home defence.
Sunderland were then grateful to their in-form goalkeeper Simon Mingolet for denying Spain attacker David Silva after excellent build-up play from Argentine pair Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero.
The former freed Aguero down the left flank, and the ex-Atletico Madrid man reached the byline before finding Silva who connected well on the edge of the six yard box, but he was denied by a superb reflex save from the on-rushing Mingolet.
Next up it was the turn for City keeper Hart to be the hero, as he denied Steven Fletcher as he flew full stretch to his bottom right to deny the Scotland striker an opening goal.
A couple of wasted free kicks aside, that was the nearest the hosts’ came to scoring in the first half, but just 10 minutes into the second period, they took the lead.
Ex-City midfielder Johnson picked up the ball on the right-hand side of the penalty area and drilled a shot low towards Hart’s near post which the England man let slip under his out-stretched hand and into the corner of the net.
It was terrible mistake from the usually reliable Hart, but his manager and team-mates were furious that a foul on Pablo Zabalata seconds before was not punished by referee Kevin Friend.
That goal sparked the contest into life, and minutes later Sunderland almost doubled their lead when the lively Stephane Sessegnon wriggled himself into some room, before dragging his shot wide from the edge of the area.
From that point on, however, all the pressure was coming from the away side, and it took a fine save from Mingolet from an Aguero drive on the right-side of the area to keep the Black Cats in front.
Minutes later Campbell almost got a goal himself as he unleashed a powerful shot inside the area, only for it to be directed straight at a grateful Hart.
Sunderland were soaking up the visitor’s pressure well, and trying to hit them on the counter-attack and James McClean went close to doubling their lead, but his shot from the left-side of the area was only good enough for the side netting.