The one-man disadvantage brought about a steely resolve from Sunderland, who equalised through John O'Shea in the 63rd minute, prompting positive words from Di Canio.
"I'm very happy with the way we were after the first half when Craig was sent off," he told Sky Sports 1.
"It was a tough moment for us. At the end, the second half and the last 15 mins of the first half, I saw the team I wanted to see, playing football with enthusiasm and character.
"It is obvious that we had to stop what we did last week (6-1 loss to Aston Villa)."