It is the fifth dismissal in the past five games between the two rivals, and the game got off to a typically explosive start when Cabaye fired his team into the lead with just three minutes on the clock. Hatem Ben Arfa teed up Demba Ba to drive a fierce effort at Mignolet, which the Belgian could only palm out back into the area, where Cabaye was waiting to smash home.
As befits the fixture, a scrappy but entertaining contest followed, with Sunderland able to get forward but unable to put Newcastle under any real pressure. Midway through the half, however, they were given a huge helping hand after Cheik Tiote went over the ball in a challenge with Steven Fletcher, clattering the Scotland striker on the shin and earning himself a dismissal. In truth, Newcastle could be forgiven for thinking the red card was slightly harsh, but by the letter of the law could have no complaints.
Despite the numerical advantage, Sunderland still struggled to impose themselves on the Newcastle defence. The closest time the Black Cats came to scoring was in the 32nd minute, when Danny Rose's low cross found it's way to Adam Johnson in the area, but the England winger curled his shot wide of the far post.
And yet towards the end of the half, it was almost Newcastle who doubled their advantage. A corner was taken for Fabricio Coloccini to attempt a long-range strike, but his effort ricocheted onto the chest of Demba Ba, whose acrobatic effort from just a few yards out went over the crossbar with Simon Mignolet a thankful spectator.
Newcastle may be leading and a man down, but the Magpies have not shut up shop - the game is still very much an open one, and the game is posed for an absorbing second half. Martin O'Neill will know that his side have not been good enough, particularly given their advantage in numbers, so half-time substitutions would not be a surprise.