They got off to a good start when Steven Fletcher headed them in front, but Newcastle full-back Mathieu Debuchy drew his side level shortly after the restart.
However, substitute Fabio Borini sealed all three points for the home team in the closing stages with a powerful effort.
You can find out how the match unfolded with our minute-by-minute updates below.
12.32pmAfternoon all. While a lot of people will be licking their lips at the prospect of Chelsea vs. Manchester City later today, before that we have the small matter of a Tyne-Wear derby. If nothing else, it should be fiery.
12.35pmRight, before we delve into this contest in more depth, the team news is just starting to filter through. Let's begin with how the away side will start this encounter...
12.39pmSo, following his goal from the bench last time out against Liverpool, youngster Paul Dummett has kept his place in the Newcastle defence. Elsewhere, French pairing Yoan Gouffran and Hatem Ben Arfa will play in advanced midfield roles, while Loic Remy is likely to feature as a lone centre-forward.
12.40pmAnd let's now take a look at the home side's starting lineup...
12.43pmSUNDERLAND SUBS: Ki, Gardner, Celustka, Giaccherini, Roberge, Borini, Mannone
12.45pmWell, Gus Poyet has made four changes for his first home match in charge of the club. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Italian midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini has been dropped to the bench because he's been one of Sunderland's brightest sparks this term. Jozy Altidore, Jack Colback, Andrea Dossena and Carlos Cuellar have all come into the team.
12.48pmOf course this match is always important to Sunderland, but it cannot be stressed enough just how vital it is that they collect all three points today. If they were to lose, we may only be nine games in, but it looks a long way to safety for Poyet's charges. That alone is likely to be motivation for the visiting players!
12.52pmIt must be said, though, that recent history does not bode well for them:
1 - Sunderland have won just one of their previous 11 Tyne-Wear home derbies against Newcastle in the Premier League (D5 L5). Weary.
12.56pmIn fact, according to the Daily Mail's Ian Ladyman, Sunderland's record against their rivals is even worse than that:
"First weird stat of the day. Sunderland only beaten Newcastle at home once in 33 years. Thats, er, remarkable."
1.01pmSomeone that will be welcome back into the Sunderland team is Steven Fletcher. The Scot's recent injury problems have really hurt the Black Cats. Moments ago the striker spoke with Sky Sports News: "We know it's a big game, especially for the fans. The gaffer is getting his points across and it's been good."
1.04pmStaying with Sunderland, their manager Poyet has also just been talking to Sky Sports News. Here's a snippet of what he had to say:
"It's been a good week. We will try our best. We've been thinking about bringing players into their best positions. We needed a little bit more power up front and Jozy (Altidore) will be important for us."
1.08pmAnd keeping further with the Sunderland theme, their full-back Michael Gray has offered a rallying cry on Twitter:
Come oooonnnnnnnn....!!! Let's avvvvv ittttttttt #safc
1.12pmNow let's turn some attention to Newcastle - there manager Alan Pardew has just been speaking, again with Sky Sports News:
"The last fixture between us, we came off a quarter-final Europa League game against Benfica and we were not really at it. This time we are in good shape and there is no excuse. We are in good form and if we can win it springboards us up into the top half of the table.
"The noises coming out of Sunderland are good for them. [Poyet] has put a team out that will be quite direct. We have to be wary of that. For us, we just have to bring our best game and if we can do that I think we can win."
1.16pmSomeone that knows all about these games is Kevin Kilbane, who spent four years with the Black Cats up until 2003. The Irishman, talking to BBC Sport, has urged his former club to take advantage of any nerves that youngster Dummett may harbour:
"The key for Sunderland is making the most of the adventurous 4-4-2 selected by Gus Poyet. Steven Fletcher and Jose Altidore must take advantage of playing against Paul Dummett.
"There is less pressure on the away teams in this derby. Newcastle played very well at the Stadium of Light with 10 men last season."
1.21pmPREDICTION: Okay, with a few minutes left until we get started, let's have a stab at guessing the outcome of this one. Neither side are great at the back, so it would be a surprise if a clean sheet is kept. What's more, in attack, both teams have players capable of scoring goals. Let's sit on the fence and call it a draw - 2-2.
1.25pmA massive roar rings out around the Stadium of Light as the players come out of the tunnel. If that doesn't inspire the home side then nothing will!
1 minGAME ON! Sunderland, attacking from left to right, get this Tyne-Wear derby underway. Both sets of supporters are in fine voice.
4 minIt's been exactly the type of start that many had predicted. It's all 100mph stuff with plenty of tackles, largely fair ones, flying in. No chances at either end in just yet, though.
5 minI said earlier that Fletcher is vital to Sunderland and he's proved his worth within five minutes! A short corner between Sebastian Larsson and Adam Johnson results in the latter lofting a cross to the back post. It's stood up for Fletcher, who shows more desire than the Newcastle defence to power a header into the net from close range. The Stadium of Light erupts - so much so that Fletcher ends up in the stands with the crowd! He's booked for his celebration - that's a silly rule!
10 minHere's a question - why an earth are both of these sides playing in stripes?! Granted Sunderland have some red and Newcastle have some black on their shirts, but it still looks quite similar. To muddy the waters further, both teams are wearing black shorts!
12 minNewcastle's first real effort of the game sees Yohan Cabaye size up an opportunity from 25 yards out. The Frenchman can hit those that's for sure, but on this occasion the ball flies well over the top.
17 minSAVES! The so far lively Cabaye goes much closer on this occasion with a free kick from 30 yards out. He beats the Sunderland wall, but Kieran Westwood gets down to hold. Then, up the other end, Tim Krul palms clear a fierce drive from Fletcher. Good stuff from both teams.
22 minSurely these teams can't keep up this pace for 90 minutes? Every time they gain possession, the tactic seems to be to get forward as quickly as possible. It's making for some great entertainment, even if the quality of passing is leaving a little to be desired at times.
26 minWe've also started to see some niggly fouls being committed as the referee stamps down on proceedings. Amazingly, few of them are involving Lee Cattermole!
29 minBOOKING! The first yellow card of the match for Newcastle and it's a deserved one. Colback's feet are too quick for his opposite number Cabaye, who catches him late with his studs. The caution was inevitable.
33 minThe last few minutes have belonged to Newcastle, although they haven't created too much. Sunderland are starting to aimlessly clear the ball, rather than pick a pass. In turn, it's heaping more pressure on themselves - a vicious circle if you will.
38 minYou cannot knock the optimism that Ben Arfa shows by going for goal from 35 yards out, but his execution isn't the best. The ball drifts two or three yards wide of the target, although Westwood dives full stretch just to make sure.
43 minIt was always going to die down at some stage and the pace now has. Newcastle are seeing much more of the ball, but there is little threat about their play. From Sunderland's point of view, it's vitally important that they go into the break having not conceded.
45 minWe will have two minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half...
2.21pmWell if you wanted to see a match full of neat passing football and plenty of chances you will be bitterly disappointed now. It doesn't mean that it hasn't be a decent watch, though. The pace at times has been staggering and both sets of players haven't held back when it comes to tackle - exactly what we expected really.
2.24pmPoyet is likely to be pleased with his players at the break. Their application has been very good and they've worked extremely hard. Granted their passing has been poor at times, but today is all about claiming the three points. They are halfway there, but that can all change obviously.
2.27pmAs for Newcastle, their manager Pardew is bound to be fuming with the way that his side started this game. Since then, they've seen plenty of the ball, but they haven't carved out too much in terms of goalscoring opportunities. They need to Cabaye on the ball a bit more because every time he has had possession, he's looked lively.
46 minSECOND HALF UNDERWAY! Newcastle get us restarted at the Stadium of Light and they have also made a substitution. Striker Papiss Cisse is on and he has replaced Moussa Sissoko, who did very little during the first half.
52 minNot too much to report in the opening exchanges of the second half, although there are now a few more gaps in the midfield following Sissoko's withdrawal. It's by no means a bad change from Pardew because it gives Newcastle more of a threat going forward, but it may also work in Sunderland's favour. Possession is key.
56 minBen Arfa really isn't have the best of afternoons at the moment. Just now he attempts to take on Larsson, but slips, then when he regains his footing, he pulls back the Sunderland midfielder and a foul is correctly awarded. He's capable of producing that something special without doubt, but it's just not happening right now.
58 minWhat a day for Mathieu Debuchy to score his first goal in Newcastle colours. Ben Arfa's shot from the left is scuffed and doesn't appear to be posing any threat. However, full-back Debuchy carries on his run beyond a dosing Johnson and he's on hand to tun the ball in from close range at the back post. Newcastle are level and the mood inside the Stadium of Light has somewhat changed. Game on!
62 minSunderland's response to the equaliser is positive and they force a corner which is eventually worked to Larsson 20 yards from goal. The Swede attempts to curl in an effort, but it flies wide of the target. Only a half chance it must be said.
64 minCHANCE! Fantastic effort from Cabaye, who wraps his right foot around the ball from 25 yards out. It curls late, but with Westwood at full stretch, there is not enough turn and the ball cannons against the back stantion. Some of the Newcastle fans thought that was in, much to the amusement of the home support!
68 minSUBSTITUTION: First change of the afternoon for Sunderland and it's Fabio Borini that has come on. He's replaced Johnson, who did not look happy to have been hooked.
69 minSAVE! Just! Mr Krul you lucky man. Borini's first involvement sees him fire towards goal from a narrow angle. Krul fails to gather and it appears that ball is going to creep in. However, the Dutchman retrieves the situation by pouncing on it at the final moment.
71 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Changes for both sides as Cattermole trudges off for Sunderland to be replaced by Ki, while Remy comes off for Newcastle and on comes Shola Ameobi.
76 minGot to say that Newcastle look more likely to snatch a win here. They are pushing forward on a regular basis, while Sunderland cannot keep hold of the ball. It's a big final few minutes here for the home side.
77 minSUBSTITUTION: It's the end of Phil Bardsley's afternoon because the Sunderland full-back has picked up a knock. He limps off and is replaced by Ondrej Celustka.
79 minCHANCE! Newcastle are a whisker away from grabbing the lead here through Ameobi. The substitute is given time and space on the edge of the area and so he opts to shoot. His low effort looks to have beaten a diving Westwood, but the ball skids inches wide of the upright.
85 minWow, just wow! Sunderland looked as though they had settled for a draw and yet they may have stolen all three points. Borini has been largely invisible since coming on, but he's made himself an instant hero with a great goal. Colback picks out Altidore, who in turn lays the ball into the Italian's path. He goes for power from 25 yards out and the ball swerves away from a desperate Krul. For the second time today, the Stadium of Light blasts into life!
87 minSUBSTITUTION: Final throw of the dice from Newcastle boss Pardew as he sends on Sammy Ameobi in place of Gouffran. They need a goal, and quick.
89 minSAVE! John O'Shea must be the most relieved man in all of Wearside. His back header deep inside the Sunderland box appears to be dropping into his own net. Westwood reacts quickly, though, as he spins around and falls on top of the ball. A heart in mouth moment for Sunderland but they escape.
90 minPoyet isn't happy, but there will be four minutes of stoppage time for his team to survive.
90+3 minSunderland have just worked themselves three corners, all of which have been played short. As far as they are concerned, the ball is in the right area of the pitch, while the Newcastle players are getting visibly frustrated.
3.23pmPoyet looks as though he is about to burst into tears as the final whistle is blown. The emotion as the final whistle is blown is there for all to see inside the Stadium of Light. That could turn out to be a big three points for Sunderland and what a team to gain them against.
3.24pmThat's all we have time for from Wearside - thanks for joining us this afternoon. Until next time, goodbye.