Sunderland remain without a Premier League win to their names after throwing away a two-goal lead against West Ham.
Amidst frenzied pre-match speculation over the future of Dick Advocaat, Sunderland produced their best 45 minutes in more than a year, yet it still wasn’t enough to break the Black Cats’ duck.
Sunderland were rampant in the first half and raced into a two goal lead through the excellent Steven Fletcher and Jeremain Lens, before Fabio Borini missed a golden opportunity to put the game to bed.
That miss proved to be costly when ex-Sunderland transfer target Carl Jenkinson pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time with West Ham’s first effort.
Sunderland were reduced to 10 men just before the hour mark, when Lens needlessly collected a second yellow card, and then the Hammers levelled moments later when Dimitri Payet swept in the rebound after a mistake from Costel Pantilimon.
West Ham couldn’t grab a winner against the 10 man hosts, despite their pressure, but Sunderland remain without a top flight victory heading into the second international break.
Advocaat made three changes to the starting XI, with Sebastian Coates, DeAndre Yedlin and Steven Fletcher introduced for Adam Johnson, Patrick van Aanholt and the injured Younes Kaboul.
Full debutant Yedlin started the game at right-back, with Billy Jones moving to the opposite flank, after Advocaat finally ran out of patience with error-prone van Aanholt.
Sunderland had edged a rather dull opening to the game, but they went ahead for only the second time this season in the 11th minute after a textbook training ground free-kick.
Yann M’Vila played the ball from the left-hand corner flag low into the area, and Fletcher peeled away from the back post before smashing it past Adrian from 12 yards out.
There was almost a second moments later, when Fabio Borini thrashed the ball into the side netting after being freed by Ola Toivonen down the right-hand side of the area.
Sunderland did double their advantage in the 23rd minute after a stunning goal from Lens.
West Ham were caught in possession and M’Vila threaded the ball through for Lens in behind the visiting defence.
Without hesitation, Lens lifted the ball over Adrian from 20 yards and it nestled in the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Adrian then needed to produce a stunning finger-tip save to keep out John O’Shea’s header from M’Vila’s right wing corner.
Seven minutes before the interval, it should have been 3-0 after a brilliant move between Ola Toivonen, Lens and Fletcher saw the latter back-heel the ball into the path of Borini.
The Italian managed to bring it under control, to leave himself with just Adrian to beat, but he placed his shot a couple of inches wide of the post.
Moments later, Borini placed a shot just wide from 20 yards after a lovely lay-off from the influential Fletcher.
But in first half stoppage time, the Hammers pulled one back with their first opportunity of the game, when Victor Moses go to the left-hand by-line and his low cross was swept into the net by Carl Jenkinson.
West Ham went desperately close to levelling in the 57th minute when Manuel Lanzini cut inside off the left and hit a snorting shot across goal from 20 yards which just swerved wide of the far post.
Seconds later, Sunderland were reduced to 10 men when Jeremain Lens picked up a second yellow card for sweeping away the legs of Winston Reid from behind.
The equaliser then arrived on the hour mark when Lanzini shot from 25 yards and Costel Pantilimon couldn’t hold an effort that was straight at him.
Dimitri Payet pounced on the rebound and cushioned a shot into the net.
Nikica Jelavic was then a whisker away from putting the Hammers in front when Sunderland didn’t deal with Payet’s inswinging cross, but the striker couldn’t get over the ball at the far post and sent his effort high and wide.
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones, Yedlin, O’Shea, Coates, Cattermole, M’Vila (Gomez 90), Toivonen (Larsson 84), Lens, Borini, Fletcher (Rodwell 85). Subs not used: Mannone, van Aanholt, Brown, Defoe. Booked: Lens (32), Cattermole (43), Coates (74). Sent off: Lens (58)
West Ham: Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid (Collins 66), Tomkins, Cresswell, Noble (Zarate 79), Kouyate, Moses (Jelavic 58), Payet, Lanzini. Sakho. Subs not used: Randolph, Obiang, Jelavic, Antonio, Oxford. Booked: Noble (2), Reid (24), Cresswell (36), Jenkinson (72)