By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Alan Pardew was delighted with an outstanding second half performance from his side, as Newcastle United came from behind to record a 1-1 draw against local rivals Sunderland.
Shola Ameobi's late leveller cancelled out a Nicklas Bendtner penalty at the Sports Direct Arena, but that wasn't the end of the drama as Black Cats striker Stephane Sessegnon saw red for an elbow, and Demba Ba missed a late spot kick.
And after a below-par first period, Pardew believes his players were back to their best after the break on an eventful afternoon.
"I'm absolutely delighted with my team. We showed real courage and determination to turn that around," the boss told nufcTV following the final whistle.
"The opposition came here to unsettle us and the first tackle set the tone - (Cattermole) smashed Cheick to try and disrupt him - and we got sucked into that in the first half.
"We didn't play any football. It was just a physical war and they were better than us at that.
"But in the second half we came, played our game and forgot about all that, and we absolutely bossed them and something was going to give.
"Once their guy was sent off it was just about were we going to get two goals, were we going to get time?
"We missed a penalty but still we didn't lie down. That could have been a body blow.
"And up steps our man again - Shola Ameobi - and what a fantastic person he is. He scores again and just reminds us all how important he is to the team."
Pardew reserved special praise, however, for Hatem Ben Arfa, who stepped off the substitutes' bench at half-time to produce an outstanding individual display full of creativity and threat in the final third.
"This guy is exceptional. I don't want our fans to start thinking I don't think this is a good player," explained Pardew.
"He is special and we have got to get him on the pitch. I've got to find a way of getting him on the pitch to play like that, because that was his best 45 minutes.
"We've got 11 games to go and he can cause some real damage. He was the big difference between the sides in terms of the technical quality.
"You need a technical player who can unlock the door - he did it about four times and we were unlucky not to get a goal in those moments. It was a big game for him."
To view the full interview with Pardew, click on the button below