Sunderland 1-1 Everton
A controversial penalty decision by referee Howard Webb gifted Leighton Baines the chance to rescue a point for Everton at Sunderland.
The visitors dominated early on but Sunderland scored when Jack Colback's shot deflected in off Sylvain Distin.
Everton levelled when Leon Osman was awarded a penalty after falling while mis-kicking then Baines converted.
Distin missed an excellent late chance for Everton as he blazed over from the edge of the six-yard box.
Webb's shock decision to award the penalty early in the second half was the major talking point.
Osman dribbled into the area but then mis-kicked and went to ground.
Sunderland's Wes Brown and Lee Cattermole appeared to make no contact with him, but Webb pointed to the spot and Everton took the chance to level the scores.
Baines deserved the goal after an impressive display, during which he teased Sunderland with a series of fine crosses.
Just five minutes later, Webb had another big decision to make as Everton midfielder Royston Drenthe appeared to be brought down by Craig Gardner on the edge of the area, but this time no foul was given.
Sunderland had arrived in confident mood after securing two last-gasp wins in three games under new manager Martin O'Neill, and were looking to draw level on points with Everton, who started the afternoon in 11th place.
But they should have been satisfied with a point, despite the controversial nature of the equaliser, after they had to reshape their defence as first Titus Bramble and then Phil Bardsley suffered injuries.
The visitors had the better of the chances and will be frustrated that their familiar problem of failing to turn pressure into goals resurfaced once again.
Tim Cahill, back in the side after being dropped in midweek, has an impressive scoring record against Sunderland.
But the Australian is in the middle of a goal drought and he first saw Kieran Westwood save from eight yards, before heading wide soon afterwards.
Everton were dominant and had an even better chance when Drenthe's corner picked out the unmarked Louis Saha, but his close-range header was poor and went wide.
Substitute Colback came on for Bramble in an unfamilar role on the left of midfield but just five minutes later he was celebrating a goal that came against the run of play.
Stephane Sessegnon charged into the 18-yard area and shifted the ball to Colback, who fired in an angled shot which went in after striking the diving Distin.
Everton kept battling away before the interval and Osman curled over from just inside the 18-yard box before Drenthe drove wide from long range.
David Moyes's team could consider themselves unlucky to be behind but then came their huge slice of fortune, with Baines taking full advantage as he rifled the penalty into the top corner.
Webb was soon faced with a second big decision over an Everton penalty claim as Gardner and Drenthe tangled, but this time he ruled in favour of the hosts.
After that there were few clear-cut chances in unhelpful, windy conditions, although Distin spurned a late opportunity to earn victory for Everton.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill: "I was obviously unhappy with the penalty. The players that were heavily involved with it were more upset.
"Howard must have thought there was contact there but there was clearly no contact. It's disappointing because it has a major bearing on the game.
"I saw him after the game and he was very gracious. He thought our player had clipped their player.
"I thought we were tentative at the start but we gradually got into the game and became an attacking force."
Everton manager David Moyes: "We played really well for 25, 30 minutes - we had the momentum and chances. Leighton Baines put in some world-class crosses. Any centre-forward worth their salt would be begging to get on the end of them.
"Sunderland's goal was a bit lucky. It's happened a few times this season, not killing teams off when we had the chance.
"It's definitely not a penalty kick [that we were awarded]. It's a poor decision by the referee. It looked to me from the dug-out that Leon had been caught, but I've looked at it on the replays and the referee's made a big mistake.
"This has been the toughest season since I've joined the club."