Attendance: 40,043 (741 away)
Sunderland struck late at the Stadium of Light as Patrick van Aanholt’s second goal of the season earned a share of the spoils against West Bromwich Albion.
The Black Cats made a bright start to proceedings on a crisp afternoon on Wearside, but after Jermain Defoe spurned a glorious chance early on the Baggies made them pay.
Belgium international Nacer Chadli scored the only goal of the opening period to complete an impressive counter attack, with the winger switching on the burners before burying a fine finish into the corner.
Sunderland regrouped following the break and worked tirelessly in the second period, and finally got their reward on 86 minutes as van Aanholt’s effort found the corner.
Both sides searched for a winner in the dying embers, but it remained level meaning Sunderland enter the international break without a Premier League win.
The Black Cats made a host of changes for the game – most notably at the back – as John O’Shea and Jason Denayer were drafted in ahead of Papy Djilobodji and van Aanholt who dropped to the bench.
Javier Manquillo switched to the left side of defence with Paddy McNair replacing Lee Cattermole in midfield, and there were also changes on the flanks as Wahbi Khazri and Duncan Watmore replaced the injured Steven Pienaar and Adnan Januzaj.
David Moyes’ new-look side made a bright start to the game and they should have led inside three minutes. McNair was the architect splitting the Baggies defence in two and picking out the run of Defoe, but the prolific striker snatched at the chance and it whistled narrowly wide.
The Black Cats continued to search for an opener with Watmore probing down the right as he and Khazri repeatedly switched flanks, but they were almost caught off-guard on 12 minutes as Denayer switched off and Matt Phillips switched on.
The former Queens Park Rangers winger was picked out on the right in acres of space and he reversed the ball into the path of Chadli, but the Belgian was thwarted by Pickford who flew to his right to make the save.
Both sides continued to trade punches as an open encounter flowed back and forth, but eight minutes after Craig Dawson almost shinned the ball into his own net the Baggies took the lead.
Kirchhoff was beaten in a 50-50 and the visitors countered at pace with Phillips picking out the run of Chadli, and the winger did the rest as he breezed past Kone before sliding the ball past Pickford.
It came as a sucker punch to the Black Cats who, up until the opener, had been in control and had limited the visitors to tame efforts from range.
But Chadli’s strike proved to be the turning point in the opening 45 as the Baggies bounced forward on multiple occasions with Phillips curling wide before James McClean’s cross-shot evaded the reach of Salomon Rondon.
Moyes’ side dusted themselves down during the break and started the second period with a burning desire to draw level, but the Black Cats were dealt yet another injury blow on 55 minutes as Kirchhoff was stretchered off.
Van Aanholt replaced the German, who became Sunderland’s eighth first-team player in the treatment room, but instead of taking up his usual left-back role he played in an advanced role on the left flank.
But it was the Baggies who created the best chances in the moments that followed as Tony Pulis’ side peppered the Black Cats backline. Darren Fletcher was first to muster an attempt producing a venomous half-volley which stung the palms of Pickford, with Rondon’s follow-up blocked before Chadli dragged an effort wide.
Like the opening period, Khazri remained the Black Cats’ leading creative source and he when he picked out Defoe on 71 minutes the 40,000 supporters in attendance held a collective breath.
But, with the net waiting to bulge, a heroic last-ditch block from Jonny Evans denied the striker and ensured the Baggies’ advantage remained intact.
Watmore, who replaced Januzaj in the starting XI, epitomised Sunderland’s grit and determination throughout, and it was his tenacity that led to an equaliser four minutes from time. The England international hassled and harried his way into the box before feeding the ball into the path of van Aanholt, and the Dutchman did the rest as he fired the ball into the ground before it bobbled into the corner.
And it proved to be the moment that mattered as both sides were forced to settle for a point. The result leaves Sunderland with two points from seven Premier League games; there is work to do but the Black Cats are improving and they will be confident of kicking on following the October international break.
Sunderland: Pickford, Denayer, Manquillo, O’Shea, Kone, Kirchhoff (van Aanholt 55), McNair (Rodwell, 73), Ndong, Khazri (Gooch, 90), Watmore, Defoe.
Substitutes: Djilobodji, Mika, Love, Honeyman.
West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom, Phillips, Fletcher, Yacob, McClean (Gardner, 73), Chadli (Morrison, 90), Rondon (Robson-Kanu, 90).
Substitutes: Myhill, Olsson, Berahino, Leko.