The Black Cats' first win at St. James' Park since 2000 has given their Premier League survival bid a huge boost while leaving their rivals nervously looking over their shoulders
Stephane Sessegnon's first-half strike gave the visitors a deserved lead at the interval before unstoppable long range efforts from Adam Johnson and David Vaughan secured the victory which moves the Black Cats three points clear of the drop zone.
Having crashed out of the Europa League just three days ago, the headline team news was undoubtedly the return of Cheikh Tiote and Steven Taylor for the home side, two of five changes from the team that drew with Benfica.
Sunderland boss Di Canio, meanwhile, made three changes in his second game in charge with Carlos Cuellar replacing Matthew Kilgallon, James McClean taking the place of the suspended Craig Gardner and Danny Graham entrusted to lead the line in the absence of the injured Steven Fletcher.
It was a typically lively opening as both sides tried to gain a foothold in the game. Papiss Cisse almost latched onto Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s pinged ball over the top before Taylor was caught in possession by Sessegnon, who was in on goal - until referee Howard Webb blew for a very soft free-kick.
The visitors were once again feeling aggrieved with a refereeing decision moments later as Graham was clearly pulled back by Taylor in the six yard box but Webb waved away their appeals for a spot-kick.
The Black Cats were shortly rewarded for their bright start as Sessegnon fired past Tim Krul after Jonas Gutierrez carelessly gave possession away in midfield. The Benin international still had plenty to do after receiving a square ball from McClean but after shrugging off two challenges, he gave Krul no chance from the edge of the area.
But the hosts almost hit back immediately as Cisse was denied not once but twice by Simon Mignolet. Firstly, the striker latched onto a flick on but couldn’t beat the Sunderland ‘keeper from eight yards and then from the resulting corner, saw his goal-bound shot stopped by the Belgian.
The midfield trio of Cabaye, Tiote and Sissoko began to pull the strings as Pardew’s side started to knock on the Sunderland door with some determination.
However, Newcastle nearly found themselves further behind before the break but Cuellar headed straight at Krul from point-blank range.
The hosts’ persistence continued after the break with the introduction of Shola Ameobi but once again Mignolet denied Cisse, this time tipping the striker’s curling effort to safety.
The Magpies thought they were level on the hour mark but the Senegal international was flagged offside after slotting home from a tight angle.
In his last throw of the dice, Pardew sent Hatem Ben Arfa into the action but the Frenchman couldn’t direct his header on target shortly after being introduced before Cisse fired wide from Debuchy’s low cross.
And after soaking up the pressure, Di Canio’s side landed the killer blow as Johnson’s sensational curling effort gave substitute ‘keeper Rob Elliot no chance from 30 yards.
Shortly after, Sessegnon found Vaughan on the left-hand corner of the penalty area before the Welsh international cracked a screamer into the top corner with the outside of his left boot.