Newcastle boss Alan Pardew paid tribute to derby hero Shola Ameobi after he once again proved Sunderland's nemesis.
The 30-year-old striker snatched a point with an injury-time equaliser, his seventh goal in the Tyne-Wear encounter which leaves him second only to Magpies legend Jackie Milburn in the all-time list.
Ameobi, who had been ill in the run-up to the game, came off the bench as a 72nd-minute replacement for Papiss Cisse with the visitors leading 1-0, and left his mark on the game in the nick of time.
Pardew said: "I can't speak highly enough about this kid, and we have his brother [Sammy] in the building as well, who has got a terrible injury and is coming back.
"They are a great family and what has been passed down by his parents, he carries through to this team.
"I have spoken about him very highly in this room before. I love him to bits and I am absolutely delighted for him."
Ameobi's intervention spared Demba Ba's blushes after Newcastle's leading scorer passed up a glorious opportunity to cancel out Sunderland's lead.
Nicklas Bendtner had put the Black Cats ahead from the penalty spot after 24 minutes following Mike Williamson's tug on Michael Turner's shirt, and referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot for a second time with 18 minutes remaining after substitute Fraizer Campbell had tripped Ameobi.
However, Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet pulled off a fine save low to his left, only for Ameobi to beat him from Williamson's flick-on at the death.
The equaliser was all the more galling for the visitors because they had played the last 32 minutes of normal time with only 10 men after Stephane Sessegnon was sent off for elbowing Cheick Tiote.
Skipper Lee Cattermole, who had picked up his 10th booking of the season after just 40 seconds, suffered the same fate as the Benin international after the final whistle for using foul and abusive language to the official.
Pardew, whose goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman was sent to the stands at half-time, was simply delighted to have come out of a tough fixture with honour intact and European qualification still a possibility.
He said: "This is a fantastic position we find ourselves in tonight. We have got a great chance of European football with 11 games to go.
"They are the most important games of any season. I am glad this is out of the way now.
"We can concentrate on what we are about and hopefully get the wins."
Opposite number Martin O'Neill left Tyneside reflecting on what might have been.
He said: "I am absolutely delighted with the team, really delighted with them.
"We had a lot to make up for after last week's debacle at West Bromwich Albion, but we played very, very strongly and had we held out, I think I would have been coming in here and saying we deserved all three points."
O'Neill will discover on Monday exactly for how long Cattermole will be banned, but both he and Sessegnon will definitely miss the FA Cup quarter-final trip to Everton.