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.
It was a typically lively opening as both sides tried to gain a foot hold in the game. Papiss Cisse almost latched onto Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s pinged ball over the top before Steven 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 Danny 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 Beninese striker still had plenty to do after receiving a square ball from James McClean, but after shrugging off two challenges, he gave Krul no chance from the edge of the area.
The hosts almost hit back immediately as Cisse was denied twice by Simon Mignolet. The striker latched onto a flick on but couldn’t beat the Sunderland goalkeeper from eight yards, and then from the resulting corner, he saw his goal bound shot stopped by the Belgian.Newcastle nearly found itself further behind before the break, but Carlos 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 Senegalese 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.
After soaking up the pressure, Di Canio’s side landed the killer blow as Johnson’s sensational curling effort gave substitute goalkeeper 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 to cap the scoring and the shock derby victory, which brought the Black Cats much-needed breathing room in the fight against relegation.