Match ends, Sunderland 1, West Ham United 1.
Sunderland 1-1 West Ham United
- Gomez converts controversial Sunderland penalty
- Downing equalises as West Ham stay fourth
- Sunderland draw 10th game from 16
- West Ham beaten just once in 10
West Ham maintained their place in the Premier League's top four by coming from behind to draw at Sunderland.
They trailed to Jordi Gomez's penalty, given when Sunderland's Adam Johnson fell under James Tomkins' challenge.
That decision angered Hammers boss Sam Allardyce but Stewart Downing levelled from 18 yards via a deflection.
Jozy Altidore's glaring close-range miss proved crucial for Sunderland, who drop to 15th, and the visitors' Aaron Creswell had a one-on-one chance saved.
Sunderland have now drawn 10 games from 16 but may take some comfort from the fact their latest point comes against a side enjoying their best start in 31 years.
The West Ham side of 1973-74, boasting players such as Trevor Brooking and Frank Lampard Snr, imploded after the turn of the year, but Downing's equaliser at the Stadium of Light perhaps shows their current team are made of stern stuff.
Goalkeeper Adrian made a stunning late save to deny Connor Wickham, while Winston Reid and Tomkins completed twice the number of clearances made by their opposing central defenders.
Tomkins was furious when his challenge on Johnson was penalised, resulting in Gomez's coolly-taken spot-kick, and Allardyce berated referee Phil Dowd when the official walked to the touchline to calm the West Ham boss.
|Downing impresses again|
|Stewart Downing created five chances and, of all the midfielders and forwards on the pitch, he was most accurate with his passing in the opponents' half, completing 87.9%.|
He settled, briefly, but punched the air jubilantly moments later when Downing cut in from the right to drive in from 18 yards via a deflection.
Downing, recalled to the England squad after a two-year absence last month, has now scored twice and created three goals in his last six West Ham outings.
Fresh from fixtures with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool, Sunderland boss Gus Poyet said his side must start winning ahead of kick-off and they will look at Altidore's miss with the final kick of the opening half as key.
The American striker is yet to score in 10 league outings this season for a Sunderland side who have failed to score in seven of their last 12 games.
Their shortcomings in front of goal are not for lack of willing and indeed both sides, each operating a 4-4-2 system, pressed for a winner, with Adrian's tipped save from Wickham pivotal.
And at the other end Andy Carroll, who had seven attempts on goal, also fired wide with minutes remaining as West Ham's three-game winning run ended.
They now go into a Christmas fixture list, which includes meetings with Arsenal and Chelsea, in their highest league position at this stage of the season during the Premier League era.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet: "We cannot ask the players for more, we cannot be more organised, but there is something missing and we need to find it.
"Luck helps, but we need to hit the target. When you have a break you need to put in a good cross.
"To play the football I want, at the moment we are quite far away. We are doing as much as we can at the moment."
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce: "It was not a penalty and it is as simple as that. It was given by the assistant referee and he got it horribly wrong.
"I wanted three points. I think the performances and chances created deserve that but we respect a point away from home in the Premier League.
"The overall performance from the players was excellent and you have to be satisfied when you come back from a goal down."
- 11JohnsonSubstituted forÁlvarezat 70'minutes
- 14Gomez Garcia-PencheBooked at 57mins
- 10WickhamBooked at 82mins
- 17AltidoreSubstituted forFletcherat 62'minutes
- 2ReidBooked at 40mins
- 4NolanSubstituted forE Valenciaat 81'minutes
- 11DowningBooked at 80mins
- 31E Valencia
- Phil Dowd
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Sunderland 1, West Ham United 1.
Attempt missed. Connor Wickham (Sunderland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Ricardo Álvarez.
Connor Wickham (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Winston Reid (West Ham United).
Foul by Anthony Réveillere (Sunderland).
Andy Carroll (West Ham United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Andy Carroll (West Ham United) because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Andy Carroll (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.
Wes Brown (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Winston Reid (West Ham United).
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Wes Brown.
Foul by Wes Brown (Sunderland).
Andy Carroll (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Andy Carroll.
Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Adrián.
Attempt saved. Connor Wickham (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.
Lee Cattermole (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Diafra Sakho (West Ham United).