Paolo Di Canio's celebration after Sunderland scored their second goal at St James' Park tells you all you need to know about which way this Tyne-Wear derby went. When Adam Johnson's wonderful strike found the back of the net, the maverick Italian slid, Mourinho-esque, down the touchline. It was a wonderful moment of passion from a man who proved a lot of his critics wrong with his team's performance today.
Sunderland had the better of the early stages, and Steven Taylor could consider himself very lucky on two occasions. Firstly Sessegnon stole the ball from the Newcastle defender in the final third, only for Howard Webb to incorrectly blow for a free-kick with the Benin international bearing down on goal. Just a few minutes later, Taylor was in trouble again. Some excellent work from the industrious Danny Graham saw him hold the ball in the box, and was brought down with a clear tug on the shirt. Webb, whose view was blocked, gave nothing.
Sunderland continued to threaten and looked the better side, winning a series of free-kicks in dangerous positions. The match began to heat up and Yohan Gouffran was booked for a foul on Adam Johnson. Replays show the Frenchman went over the top of the ball, and was perhaps lucky to get away with a yellow. The Black Cats soon forgot about dubious refereeing decision however, and made their good play count; the first goal of the game coming through the excellent Stephane Sessegnon.
James McClean intercepted a poor crossfield pass by Jonas Gutierrez, and found Sessegnon. Sunderland's star man cut inside, ran at the Magpie's backline and fired an excellent shot across Krul and into the bottom right hand corner. It was a thoroughly deserved goal, as Sunderland had dominated almost all areas of the pitch to that stage.
However, Newcastle responded well and almost struck back immediately. Another ball over the top found Cisse, who turned superbly. Only a wonderful intervention from Simon Mignolet stopped Newcastle from immediately pulling level. Mignolet needed to be sharp just a few minutes when Cisse was again found free in the box. The striker thought he had scored with his shirt but the Belgian keeper did well to get down to his left and stop the shot.
Sunderland weathered the Newcastle storm and could have doubled their lead on 40 minutes from a corner. The ball came in from Johnson, Carlos Cuellar ran free from his man and forced Tim Krul into an excellent reflex save from close range.
With half-time approaching, the Black Cats had one last moment of panic. A corner found Cisse free in the box, but his poked shot was blocked, first by Cuellar, and then by Larsson. However Newcastle's biggest chance of an equaliser came in the second half.
Cisse, Newcastle's only real threat throughout the game, had a snapshot which was punched out for a corner by Mignolet. The ball was cleared, but it came back in and Ameobi, who replaced Gouffran at half time, headed on for Cisse to put in the back of the net. The home support erupted, only to be quietened a few seconds later when they saw the linesman flag has been raised for offside. Newcastle will feel hard done by, as replays showed the Senegalese striker was clearly onside. Sunderland will point to their own dubious refereeing decision in the first half, when Danny Graham was clearly pulled down.
A frustrated Newcastle brought on Hatem Ben Arfa to try and boost their listless attack. He immediately made an impact, heading just over the bar from a Marveaux cross. However, with Newcastle looking for an equaliser, Sunderland struck on the counter on 74 minutes. Adam Johnson took the ball on the right, cut inside and fired a superb shot past substitute keeper Rob Elliott, leading to the aforementioned Di Canio celebration.
The goal deflated Newcastle, and ended any chance of a comeback. Sunderland controlled the match and finished off the rout with a splendid strike from David Vaughan. Sessegnon, comfortably the away side's man of the match, slid in the Welshman, who let off a thunderous rocket of the shot straight in the top right hand corner. It was a fitting end to a quite sensational performance from Sunderland.
It was a case of redemption for many of the players in red and white stripes on the pitch. Johnson has been much maligned in recent weeks, but his second goal made up for his poor form. Stephane Sessegnon, a player who has struggled to find his best form this season, was magnificent, producing arguably his best ever performance in a Sunderland shirt.
Finally Paolo Di Canio silenced his critics who claimed his fiery temperament would be a hindrance to this Sunderland side, and who were adamant the club had made a mistake. Stepping out of the political storm that has engulfed him in recent weeks, the Italian organised his team superbly, and outmaneuvered Alan Pardew at every turn. In doing so he's gone someway to proving he's more than just a short-term fix who's only here to give fight and spirit to the squad. He's proven he has firm coaching skills that, if he's given the chance, he can impart onto his squad.
Sunderland now move up to 15th, three points clear of Wigan in the relegation zone. If this performance is anything to go by, they won't be in that bottom three come the end of the season.
We'll have more reaction from today's game HERE in our Match Stream.