Newcastle were forced to take the lead three times to overcome Sunderland in a pulsating north-east derby.
Shola Ameobi's powerful header from Emre's corner sparked a four-goal spree in seven first-half minutes.
Liam Lawrence equalised with an 18-yard shot, then Ameobi headed Newcastle in front again - only for Stephen Elliott to curl home superbly from distance.
Shay Given somehow denied Elliott, who later hit the bar, but Emre's inch-perfect free-kick secured victory.
It was a goal worthy of winning a thrilling encounter - and a fantastic way for the midfielder to open his Newcastle goal account.
Sunderland keeper Kelvin Davis, who had earlier scrambled clear a goal-bound Emre corner, was helpless as the ball crashed off his left-hand post and into the net.
Newcastle's injured striker Michael Owen, watching from the stands, was so overcome he looked to have momentarily lost his grip on the child in his arms.
Owen's absence had been less of a problem than the Magpies may have feared as his replacement Ameobi proved a more than adequate deputy.
His aerial threat proved too much for Sunderland to handle - first when he lost his marker to notch the opener and then three minutes later when he nodded in Charles N'Zogbia's hooked cross.
Squeezed between Ameobi's first goals of the season came a strike of real quality from Lawrence, who arrowed a low shot into the bottom right corner.
There was no time to catch breath as the frenetic pace continued - as did the quality of Sunderland's finishing.
After jinking his way into a shooting opportunity, Elliott unleashed a curler from 25 yards, which sailed into the top left corner.
It was an unexpected passage of play, illuminating a committed, passionate and unusually open match.
Dean Whitehead had been booked after only 35 seconds for a crunching tackle on Emre.
But the Turkish international had the final say when he curled in a cracking set-piece.
Steven Carr was lucky not to see red after he was booked in the second half, having escaped a caution in the first - which was given mistakenly to Scott Parker.
The action, however, took place almost entirely - and highly memorably - in the goalmouths.
After the break Given somehow pushed Elliott's low shot around the post, while Davis saved Steven Taylor's header from point-blank range, having already thwarted Ameobi in the first half.
Sunderland almost equalised for a third time when Anthony le Tallec flicked on a header and Elliott lobbed Given.
Everyone at St James' Park turned to watch and the black and whites were relieved when the ball crashed back off the bar.
There was still time for Taylor to clear near his goal-line as substitute Andy Gray was poised to snatch a point for the visitors.
Newcastle boss Graeme Souness:
"The first half belonged to us - we totally dominated and scored two good goals but Sunderland had two shots and scored two spectacular goals.
"We have huffed and puffed recently but we have not had our special players on the pitch. We have not been scoring.
"But today we had players on the pitch who can make things happen."
Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy:
"My lads were fantastic - but we were beaten and I am absolutely sick about it. I think we did enough in the game to have got something out of it.
"Stephen Elliott was excellent and only the width of the crossbar cost us.
"I think we could have done better than to concede from corner kicks but my players are giving me, the club and the supporters value for money."
Newcastle: Given, Carr, Boumsong, Taylor, Ramage, Solano (Clark 80), Parker, Emre (Faye 81), N'Zogbia, Shearer, Ameobi (Chopra 79).
Subs Not Used: Caig, Brittain.
Booked: Parker, Carr.
Goals: Ameobi 34, Caldwell 37 og, Emre 63.
Sunderland: Davis, Nosworthy, Breen (Stubbs 42), Caldwell, Hoyte, Lawrence, Miller, Whitehead, Welsh (Arca 45), Elliott, Gray (Le Tallec 79).
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Robinson.
Booked: Whitehead, Miller.
Goals: Lawrence 35, Elliott 41.
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).