By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 0
Sunderland 1 (Johnson 90)
Newcastle United suffered their fourth consecutive Tyne-Wear derby defeat with a 1-0 loss against Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League.
Adam Johnson's last-minute strike proved decisive at St. James' Park, and it was harsh on the Magpies, who dominated for large spells and created a number of good chances.
However, they were twce denied by outstanding saves from Costel Pantilimon - who kept out Ayoze Perez and Moussa Sissoko - and were left to rue missed chances, as Johnson slotted home with the game about to enter stoppage time.
It was only Newcastle's second home defeat of the season, and they will look to bounce back against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.
United roared out of the traps and had fashioned an opening within 38 seconds.
Jack Colback's quickly-taken free-kick found Daryl Janmaat wide on the right, and he whipped a first-time cross onto the forehead of Sammy Ameobi, although the Academy graduate was unable to direct his effort on target.
Dummett curled a set-piece over the top before warming Costel Pantilimon's palms with an angled header, while Sissoko almost netted a strike reminiscent of his winner against Queens Park Rangers last month, but saw Pantilimon equal to his effort.
It took the visitors 17 minutes to muster an attempt, although Fletcher's 25-yard shot was high, wide and not very handsome.
But they were just inches away soon after when Wickham somehow nodded Adam Johnson's deep, inswinging free-kick wide from just a yard out.
That was a let-off for United and they received another just before the half-hour mark as Fletcher stole in ahead of Steven Taylor to volley Sebastian Larsson's cross against the top of the bar.
The hosts were soon back on the front foot, however, and Perez rolled his marker before curling a long-ranger out of Pantilimon's grasp but inches the wrong side of the upright.
Newcastle suffered a blow early in the second half when Steven Taylor, making an outstanding defensive header on his own goalline, collided with the post.
And with the centre-back off the pitch receiving treatment, Sunderland should have taken advantage.
Having been on the back foot, the Black Cats broke at pace and Gomez exchanged passes with Fletcher. But when it came back to the former Wigan midfielder, unmarked, eight yards out and with the goal at his mercy, he amazingly sidefooted wide.
Adam Armstrong was introduced just before the hour mark, and the 17-year-old instantly set about making himself a nuisance. He almost got on the end of an Ameobi cross, just seconds before Pantilimon made an astonishing save to keep the scores level.
When Perez met Sissoko's cut-back and sent it curling into the top corner, it looked for all the world to be the opening goal. However, Pantilimon had other ideas and the giant Romanian sprung full-stretch to his left to somehow claw the ball out and over the bar to safety.
Newcastle were starting to turn the screw and Armstrong almost made himself a hero, racing clear of the visitors' defence but firing straight at Pantilimon.
Perez then suffered the same fate, having turned Wes Brown inside out and made his way towards the six-yard box.
Sissoko came agonisingly close to a winner with one minute remaining when he pulled the trigger from 25 yards, only to be denied by another wonder save from Pantilimon.
And as the resulting corner broke down, Sunderland raced up the other end and secured all three points, with the ball eventually reaching Johnson around 12 yards out, who kept his composure to lash home the winner.
Newcastle United (4-3-3): Jak Alnwick; Daryl Janmaat, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson (c), Paul Dummett; Moussa Sissoko, Cheick Tiote (Papiss Cisse 75), Jack Colback; Yoan Gouffran (Adam Armstrong 59), Ayoze Perez, Sammy Ameobi (Remy Cabella 89)
Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Costel Pantilimon; Santiago Vergini, Sebastian Coates, Wes Brown, John O'Shea (c); Lee Cattermole (Liam Bridcutt 70); Adam Johnson, Sebastian Larsson (Jack Rodwell 90), Jordi Gomez, Connor Wickham (Will Buckley 81); Steven Fletcher
Subs not used: Vito Mannone, Jack Rodwell, Ricky Alvarez, Jozy Altidore
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Manchester)
Bookings: Newcastle - Coloccini (9), Tiote (24), Colback (25); Sunderland - Coates (2), Wickham (39), Cattermole (56), O'Shea (69)
Attendance: 52,315 (2,700 Sunderland)