The game got off to a largely scrappy start, although despite Sunderland's energy, the home side initially struggled to get onto the ball as Everton gained control of the midfield. A tough and disciplined defensive display prevented the visitors from making any real use of their possession, however, with the Toffees barely mustering a half-chance on goal in the opening half-hour.
Sunderland looked dangerous when they did get forward, and Adam Johnson forced Tim Howard into a panicky fisted clearance, before Sebastian Larsson went close with two free-kicks, the first of which whistled past the top corner with Howard apparently beaten, and the second of which the American did brilliantly to keep out, scampering over to his far post and tipping the ball away with Larsson ready to celebrate.
Yet with Sunderland improving towards the end of the half, the Black Cats managed to break the deadlock before the whistle, much to the delight of the home crowd. It came about due to a catastrophic error from Leighton Baines, a brainless pass into the ether being snaffled up by Sebastian Larsson, who played in Stephane Sessegnon, whose low, squirming shot could not be kept out by Tim Howard.
The second half started little better for the visitors, but despite getting some joy down the right flank through Johnson and putting real pressure on the Everton goal, the quality of the delivery from the hosts could not match their hustle and bluster, and David Moyes' men were able to hold out.
After withstanding Sunderland's attack, Everton appeared to regroup late on to mount a comeback attempt, and there was some drama when Larsson gave them a huge opportunity with a silly backpass for Mignolet, who had no choice but to handle the ball. The resultant free-kick saw a chaotic passage of play as the wall stood firm, but through a serious of blocks, hacks, and desperate clearances Sunderland managed to keep their lead intact.
Sunderland had the chance to seal the win with time running out as Johnson and Sessegnon sprung with most of the Everton team forward, but the Englishman chose to go on the run himself, and Howard managed to keep out his finish with an outstretched leg to keep his team in with a shout. The visitors were unable to mount any further real pressure, however, and Sunderland held out for another superb victory to follow up their derby success.