Football: Demba Ba's own goal five minutes from time meant the bragging rights were shared in this Wear-Tyne derby, but in the cold light of day Sunderland will have to admit that their inability to create chances saw them drop points at home again.
They toiled for more than an hour against a team that had been reduced to 10 men and, when the equaliser eventually came, they had to rely on an opposing player to provide it.
It was the fifth consecutive Tyne and Wear derby to see a red card and this time, unlike the last four, it was a Newcastle player who saw red.
Cheick Tiote was dismissed for a kick which caught Steven Fletcher on the shin. The touch was slight and there were similar, arguably worse, challenges which went unpunished later in the game.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was surprised to see red shown, but accepted the decision, saying: “There’s no doubt he’s not tried to do the player — he’s just late.”
Newcastle were already a goal to the good, having opened the scoring after just three minutes when Ba tested Mackems keeper Simon Mignolet from a tight angle and Yohan Cabaye made no mistake with the rebound.
Even after Tiote’s dismissal Newcastle dominated with a fluidity Sunderland failed to match throughout. “It would have been one of the greatest victories had we managed to hold on,” said Pardew.
With Newcastle one man down and looking to protect a precious lead against a team lacking in movement ideas it was perhaps inevitable that the second half became a scrappy affair.
With pressure building late on, John O’Shea’s header was diverted past Tim Krul by Ba to give the hosts a share of the points and leave home manager Martin O’Neill a relieved man.
“Our creative players are finding it hard at the moment, but that late equaliser has kept our spirits up,” O’Neill said.
On the day they had the last laugh but the uncomfortable fact is that in seven league games this season Fletcher is still the only Sunderland player to have scored.