Injury-time goal sees Black Cats gain a point.
Kevin Nolan had looked to have secured all three points for the Magpies after his backheeled attempt gave his side the lead just after the break.
Both sides came into the derby fixture looking to redeem themselves in the eyes of their fans after suffering humiliating defeats at the hands of Notts County and Stevenage in the FA Cup third round.
The action started straight away with both teams having golden opportunities to open the scoring within the first five minutes, when firstly Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi missing clear chance after being sent though by Joey Barton.
Sunderland then went straight up the park and should have open the scoring when Darren Bent received the ball from Steed Malbranque, rounded Fabricio Coloccini but hit his strike straight at Steve Harper.
The frantic pace of the game continued, with Newcastle unfortunate not to go in front when Coloccini got on the end of a Barton corner, but his header was cleared off the line by Kieran Richardson to keep both sides level.
With a quarter of an hour gone, it looked like tempers were about to boil over when a clash involving Newcastle’s Alan Smith, with the home side’s Titus Bramble and Phil Bardsley looked like it would mean that referee Howard Webb would be forced to reach for his cards, but the World Cup official just gave the offenders a talking to.
Minutes later Sunderland had a series of chances that were blocked by the visiting defense, with Malbranque, Ahmed El Mohamady and Bent all having shots with could not find their way into the Newcastle goal.
After half an hour Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was forced into a change when midfielder Alan Smith was forced to leave the field after picking up an injury in a challenge with Richardson in the middle of the park. The former Manchester United player was replaced by Danny Guthrie as the Magpies boss looked to keep the same shape.
The game finally slowed down, with both sides failing to find the final pass and giving away sloppy fouls, after going through the majority of the first half at a lightening-quick speed.
Hot on his heels | Nolan's backheeled effort gave Newcastle the lead
After the half time break the home side should have gone ahead when Bent was once again inside the Newcastle box, but he could not put his shot on target to give the Black Cats a second half lead.
That miss was to haunt the home as they went a goal down minutes later, when a corner from the right landed at the head of Ameobi, who powered the ball towards goal. But before Craig Gordon in Sunderland goal could get to the ball, Nolan got his foot to the ball and backheeled it into the net, sending the visiting fans behind the goal into ecstasy.
The visitors could have gone two ahead when Jose Enrique swung a ball in from the left hand side, which Leon Best slide in at the back post, but could not get on the end of to double Newcastle’s advantage.
From there on it was the visitors who remained the ones most likely to score again as Sunderland looked like they were running out of ideas, as Bent and the ineffective Gyan failed to trouble Harper.
With a quarter of the game to go, Newcastle should have sealed all three points, when Best broke the Sunderland offside trap, but rather than closing in on Gordon’s goal, he decided to try an effort from the edge of the box, but it went just wide of the home side’s goal.
Sunderland kept trying to get forward, but they found the pairing of Coloccini and Mike Williamson at the back for Newcastle as rock, as they helped protect Harper from actually having to do anything of any real note, as they snuffed out every attempt on goal.
The deep into injury time Gyan who had done nothing for the first 90 minutes, managed to secure an equalizer after an error by Harper in the visitors goal. That helped secure a vital point for Steve Bruce’s side to keep them from being beaten twice in a season by their local rivals.
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