The points were shared at Sunderland as the host's took the lead but were then pegged back by a soft penalty as Everton extended their unbeaten league sequence against the Black Cats to 14 games courtesy of a 1-1 draw. Sunderland dominated the early proceedings and new boss Martin O'Neill would have been delighted when they took a deserved first-half lead through Jack Colback as his shot deflected in off Sylvain Distin.
But this goal inspired Everton more than the home side and the Toffees went close to an equaliser as both team's showed attacking intent.
The turning point arrived in the 50th minute as referee Howard Webb adjudged Leon Osman to have been fouled by Lee Cattermole when replays showed the Toffees player had simply tripped over his own feet.
Sunderland have won just four home league matches in 2011 and went all out to that five but Everton equally were looking at the three points but neither managed to break the deadlock and the visitor's probably had a stronger claim for another penalty as Royston Drenthe was fouled by Craig Gardner.
Referee: Howard Webb
Venue: Stadium of Light
TRIBAL ASKS: Martin O'Neill looks an inspired choice of manager and both teams look capable of avoiding the drop.
Yellow cards: Heitinga (EVE)