Adam Johnson scored for the third derby in a row as Sunderland stole their fourth successive win in the Tyne-Wear clash at St James’ Park.

Johnson struck in the final minutes after Newcastle dominated the game, going close on a number of occasions but being thwarted by an inspired Costel Pantilimon.

Ayoze Perez, Moussa Sissoko and Adam Armstrong all tested the giant Romanian in the Sunderland goal but he stood firm and gave his side the chance to steal the points at the death.

After losing their last three derbies, it seemed imperative for Newcastle to get off to a fast start. With five home-grown Geordies in their team, the passion was certainly there and it showed as the home side flew out of the traps and had a sight of goal in the first minute.

Daryl Janmaat collected Jack Colback’s short free kick and crossed into the box, where Sammy Ameobi headed over the bar. Seconds later, Colback was felled on the edge of the box and looked set to fire a free kick towards Pantilimon’s goal but laid it back for Paul Dummett, who wasted the chance by firing high.

The Magpies had certainly made the brighter start. Despite the flow of the game being disrupted by countless free-kicks and five yellow cards in the first half, Newcastle continued to push for an opener.

It was no surprise that they came up with the best move of the match. Sissoko received a wonderful pass from Ameobi inside the box and cut inside a defender but couldn’t muster enough power to seriously test Sunderland’s 6’8” stopper.

Eventually, Sunderland found a foothold in the match. Steven Fletcher hit the bar when he volleyed Sebastien Larsson’s excellent pass past Alnwick, before Connor Wickham missed a sitter from inside the six yard box when he failed to connect with a cross.

Neither side made a change at half-time but Newcastle were almost forced into a substitution when Steven Taylor superbly denied a goal scoring chance at the far post and headbutted a post. With blood all over his face, the defender was taken off, stitched up and returned some minutes later.

While Taylor was off, the visitors might have scored. A break ended with Sunderland attacking Newcastle’s three remaining defenders and when it fell to Jordi Gomez, the capacity crowd feared the worst. However, Gomez’s curling shot flew high and wide and Newcastle survived the scare.

Newcastle began to dominate once Taylor returned to the fray. 17-year-old Armstrong was introduced from the bench before the more experienced Papiss Cisse and watched on as Perez almost opened the scoring.

Good work from Sissoko down the right had a couple of Sunderland defenders beaten and the pass to Perez was perfect for the Spaniard’s curling effort, which Pantilimon tipped away at full stretch.

Sissoko became a catalyst for Newcastle. His power and stamina in midfield was excellent but the former Manchester City keeper stood strong in the Sunderland goal. The French midfielder slammed a long range shot towards the top corner but the Romanian was on hand to tip over.

The former Toulouse man continued to push for a winner. He played through Armstrong but despite making a run into the box unmarked, the midfielder was ignored as Armstrong smashed a shot into Pantilimon’s arms.

Alan Pardew eventually turned to Cisse for inspiration. Cheick Tiote was removed in an attacking swap and Sunderland responded by opening Newcastle up on the counter attack. Johnson received a pass inside the box and cut inside Fabricio Coloccini before missing the target with a poor effort.

Sissoko went close with another shot from outside the box before Pardew made his final change when he introduced Remy Cabella but the drama was yet to come.

Newcastle were throwing men forward in search of a winner but the visitors cleared and launched a counter attack. Johnson led it, sprinting away from Jack Colback and Paul Dummett – who tried to cynically foul the winger near the halfway line – and fed Fletcher.

The striker cut a pass back across the box for substitute Will Buckley and he laid it for Johnson, who controlled and volleyed past a hapless Jak Alnwick to give Sunderland the win for the fourth successive derby.