Wahbi Khazri ended Sunderland’s goal drought on his first start since October, but Fabio Borini was the hero as the Italian rescued a late point against West Ham United.
A nightmare start for the Black Cats saw Andre Ayew open the scoring with just five minutes on the clock, as the forward coolly slotted the ball past Jordan Pickford from close range.
Sunderland rallied, though, and midway through the opening period they levelled, with Khazri’s deceptive corner sailing over a packed penalty area and in via the post.
But the Black Cats failed to learn from their mistakes following the interval, with James Collins heading the Hammers in front within two minutes of the restart, mirroring scenes last weekend against Manchester United.
David Moyes’ side once again rallied but with time ticking away all hope seemed lost, however, Borini had the final say and his thumping finish sealed a point before Sam Byram was sent off.
The Sunderland boss made four changes for the game as Javier Manquillo replaced the injured Bryan Oviedo and John O’Shea returned to the fold in place of Lamine Kone.
Darron Gibson was also recalled as Seb Larsson missed out due to suspension, but the biggest change saw Khazri named in the starting XI for the first time since October.
And the Tunisian made an immediate impression.
A mazy run saw Khazri skip past two before feeding Jermain Defoe whose effort was blocked, and within the opening 60 seconds it was two on two at the other end, as Ayew was upended by Lee Cattermole who picked up an early yellow card.
Manuel Lanzini stepped up to take the resulting free-kick and the Argentinian found the target, but Pickford judged it well and produced a comfortable save.
The Hammers continued to pile forward and soon forced O’Shea into a vital interception, but within minutes the Black Cats caved.
And it was Andy Carroll, who Moyes pinpointed during the build-up to the game, that was at the centre of the action.
The Sunderland boss urged his players to stop crosses into the box but they failed to heed his warning, with the striker left unmarked as his scuffed effort fell to Ayew who buried it from close range.
A glorious run from Defoe followed as the 34-year-old took it upon himself to haul the Black Cats back into the game, but despite breezing past three players and finding a cross, there was nobody on hand to convert.
Defoe and Khazri remained at the middle of Sunderland’s attacking play and with 26 minutes played the Lads’ wait for a goal ended, as the Tunisian’s wicked corner deceived everyone and bounced in via the box.
It was a much-needed lift and as the opening 45 minutes continued the Black Cats took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Billy Jones was first to try his luck as Moyes’ men went in search of the lead, but they were almost caught cold on 36 minutes as Ayew hooked the ball over from close range.
But it was Khazri who continued to lead the charge at the other end, with the winger forcing Randolph into a low save in added time as it ended all-square at the interval.
Sunderland conceded within 60 seconds of the restart against Manchester United, and they were once again caught napping as West Ham swiftly restored their advantage.
It was a simply goal from the Hammers created by Lanzini, who curled a great free-kick towards the back post where Collins headed into the net.
With work to do, the Black Cats went in search of another equaliser and their play was positive, with Randolph beating Defoe to Gibson’s through ball before Jose Fonte threw himself in front of the striker’s second chance in as many minutes.
Next, a great opportunity to level fell to Didier Ndong following fantastic wing play from Khazri, but after cutting inside and picking out the midfielder, he fired well over the crossbar.
Another fine block from Fonte followed as the defender thwarted Defoe as he looked to pull the trigger, but the Black Cats suffered another blow late on as Jones was stretchered off following a lengthy stoppage.
Borini was his replacement and the Italian produced the moment that mattered, with the striker’s a fab finish punishing Randolph after the stopper failed to clear his lines with a succession of poor clearances.
10 minutes of added time followed and Sunderland did their best to force a winner – particularly after Byram saw red – but they were forced to settle for a point.
Sunderland: Pickford, Jones (Borini 87), O’Shea, Denayer, Manquillo (Kone 88), Cattermole (Januzaj 76), Gibson, Ndong, Khazri, Anichebe, Defoe.
Subs: Mannone, Rodwell, Pienaar, Djilobodoji.
West Ham United: Randolph, Kouyate, Carroll, Lanzini, Snodgrass (Nordtveit 81), Collins, Ayew (Calleri 90), Byram, Fonte, Masuaku Fernandes.
Subs not used: Adrian, Cresswell, Feghouli, Fletcher, Rice.