Jeremain Lens scored and was sent-off as Sunderland squandered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with West Ham at the Stadium of Light.
A supportive home crowd was given reason to hope that a week full of speculation about the future of head coach Dick Advocaat would end on a positive note after Sunderland put in a brilliant first-half performance to go 2-0 up inside 22 minutes, through goals from Steven Fletcher and Lens.
But Carl Jenkinson pulled one back for West Ham just before half-time, and the afternoon turned sour for Sunderland in the second half as Lens was dismissed and Dimitri Payet levelled the scores on the hour mark.
The result extends West Ham’s unbeaten run to five Premier League games, while Sunderland are still without their first win of the season heading into the international break.
Sunderland struggled to get out of their own half in the early stages as West Ham dominated in midfield.
But the home side were ahead after 10 minutes when a well-worked set piece saw John O’Shea draw defenders away from Fletcher, who connected sweetly with Yann M’Vila’s low free-kick to score only his third goal for Sunderland in 2015.
West Ham briefly threatened when Manuel Lanzini ran unchallenged through midfield to shoot wide. But Sunderland regained the upper hand and the second goal came courtesy of a sublime piece of finishing from Lens. West Ham surrendered possession at the back, and M’Vila played in the Dutchman, who beat Adrian with an exquisite chip that bounced in off the underside of the crossbar to send the Stadium of Light into raptures.
Two goals in 12 minutes, after a season that had previously yielded only six, put the wind very much in Sunderland’s sails, and both Fletcher and O’Shea forced good saves from Adrian to keep the scoreline down.
With half-time approaching, Fletcher and Ola Toivonen pieced together a sequence of quick passes that should have delivered another goal-of-the-week contender, but Fabio Borini was a foot wide of the target as he failed to round off a wonderful move.
Having done virtually everything right in the opening 45 minutes, Sunderland conceded on the stroke of half-time as Victor Moses crossed for Jenkinson, who slammed the ball home from the middle of the box.
Within 10 minutes of the re-start, the momentum shifted further in the Hammers’ favour when Lens was sent off for a second bookable offence after he clattered Winston Reid with a two-footed challenge from behind.
It took only two minutes for West Ham to draw level, Costel Pantilimon parrying Lanzini’s powerful 20-yard drive to the feet of Payet, who gratefully buried his fourth goal of the season from close range.
It ought to have been 10 against 10 when Mark Noble bodychecked Borini when on a yellow card but referee Neil Swarbrick opted to keep his cards in his pocket.
The closing stages saw both sides push for a winner and Lanzini twice tested Pantilimon, but the goalkeeper managed to avoid further errors and Sunderland ground out a draw that moves them off the foot of the Premier League table.