Substitute Nazariy Rusyn denied Middlesbrough derby-day victory as Sunderland hit back late to snatch a point at the Riverside Stadium.
Boro looked to be heading for a Sky Bet Championship double over their neighbours courtesy of Marcus Forss’ 61st-minute strike until the Ukrainian striker sent a dipping 83rd-minute shot past Tom Glover at his near post to snatch a 1-1 draw which leaves the Black Cats just a point shy of the play-off places.
The Teessiders, who have a game in hand, remain three points worse off after allowing two to slip from their grasp on a day when Finn Azaz and Abdoullah Ba passed up glorious first-half chances for their respective sides.
Azaz might have put Boro ahead with nine minutes gone after Sam Greenwood had raced clear of defender Dan Ballard on to Lukas Engel’s long ball and forced a block from keeper Anthony Patterson, but he skied over from the rebound with the goal yawning.
Boro keeper Glover saved from Jack Clarke and Trai Hume with the pace and trickery of Clarke and Ba keeping the Boro defence on its toes and the interplay between Jonny Howson, Hayden Hackney and Greenwood similarly occupying their opposite numbers.
Hackney dragged a 29th-minute attempt after robbing Jobe Bellingham and Ba warmed Glover’s hands with a rising drive two minutes later before firing wastefully into the side netting when he might have had better options in the middle.
Sunderland should have been ahead five minutes before the break when Bellingham and Clarke mesmerised the home defence to seemingly present Ba with a tap-in at the far post, but Rav van den Berg somehow got across to block his effort on the line.
Luke Ayling was denied by Hume after linking promisingly with Hackney and Forss down the right, and the Boro full-back curled another effort wide with the Teessiders dominating immediately after the restart.
Patterson was fortunate to escape unpunished after dallying on a back-pass as Greenwood and Forss closed him down, but his luck ran out with 61 minutes gone.
Dan Barlaser played a free-kick short to Hackney, who laid it off to Greenwood and his scuffed shot was controlled by Forss before he smashed the ball past the helpless keeper.
Greenwood could have made it 2-0, but steered his shot across the face of goal with just Patterson to beat, and his side was made to pay when Rusyn squeezed his shot past Glover to level.