The Imps scored twice in the second half of the first clash at Sincil Bank to condemn the Black Cats to a bitterly disappointing defeat and leave Lee Johnson’s men with a mammoth task in the second leg at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
After a tepid first half, the game sprung into life in the second period with Jordan Jones and Bailey Wright striking the bar in quick succession.
But Sunderland would be made to rue those missed chances when Tom Hopper put the Imps ahead, with Brennan Johnson then doubling the lead later in the second half.
But with another game left to come, can Sunderland overturn the deficit in front of 10,000 fans on Wearside this Saturday?
Here, we take a look at some of Sunderland’s greatest come-from-behind results:
1. West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Sunderland - 18/10/1998
Having not lost a game yet that season, Peter Reid's Sunderland found themselves 2-0 down at half-time to Denis Smith's West Brom. However, up stepped Kevin Ball to drag the Black Cats back into the game. Andy Melville netted a header from a Nicky Summerbee free-kick before Michael Bridges found the equaliser. Summerbee once again turned provider for Niall Quinn to head home the winner in a remarkable comeback victory. Sunderland went on to win the First Division and gain promotion with what was at the time record points total.
Photo: Ben Radford
2. Port Vale 3-3 Sunderland - 19/10/1991
Port Vale took a second-minute lead when Peter Swan headed home his sides first goal of the afternoon before Martin Foyle doubled their lead in the second-half. Disaster struck when Vale netted a third in the 56th minute, leaving Peter Davenport (pictured) and co a seemingly impossible task. Kieron Brady clawed one back for Sunderland before Gary Owers' shot struck Kein Ball to leave Port Vale's 'keeper wrong-footed and the Wearsiders just one goal behind with 20 left to play. Brady added his second and equalised for Sunderland after his deflected shot trickled over the line.
Photo: Getty Images
3. Bristol City 3-3 Sunderland - 10/02/2018
Sunderland came from 3-0 down to rescue a point at promotion hopefuls Bristol City. The Robins were three goals ahead inside 37 minutes as the Black Cats capitulated. Aden Flint poked City in front before two close-range finishes from Famara Diedhiou prompted some away fans to leave Ashton Gate early. But, after Josh Brownhill's own goal and Aiden McGeady's strike, Marlon Pack diverted into his own net for 3-3. The game is affectionately known as 'Bristanbul' by Sunderland fans.
Photo: Catherine Ivill
4. Sunderland 2-2 Newcastle United - 06/02/2000
Sunderland hitman Kevin Phillips struck twice to earn Peter Reid's men a come-from-behind point in a pulsating Tyne-Wear derby against Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light. Didier Domi scored early on to put the Magpies a goal up before Helder doubled their vantage after 21 minutes. But Sunderland replied just two minutes later when Niall Quinn layed off the ball path into the path of strike partner Phillips, who made no mistake from 12 yards. Second-half pressure from the Wearsiders was rewarded with eight minutes to go, when Phillips sneaked in the six-yard area to score the equaliser.
Photo: Stu Forster