Sam Allardyce's side dominated for the 90 minutes but their return to Stadium of Light didn't prove to be a fruitful one as chances from Jermain Defoe, Lee Cattermole, Fabio Borini and Dame N'Doye failed to be converted.
Their first chance came eight minutes in when Defoe did well to get onto the low ball from Younes Kaboul and looked replicate his fellow Englishman Jamie Vardy's backheel flick goal against Germany in the latest international. Unlike Manuel Neuer, Ben Foster was equal to it as he dealt with it at the front post.
The veteran forward could have had a brace inside the first 20 minutes as he did well to get away from Jonny Evans after the ball from Patrick Van Aanholt but it was clear the 34-year-old was still getting his eye in as he dragged the effort wide.
Despite been bombarded with pressure, Foster had very little to do inside the first half hour but was called upon in the 33rd minute when Lee Cattermole was played through down the right. The skipper looked to chip the England international but he did well to palm it away the danger.
It was a slower start to proceedings at the beginning of the second 45 minutes but Borini was gifted two great opportunities to break the deadlock in quick succession.
The first came in the 55th minute when he showed initiative in the penalty area as he bundled his way onto the ball from Jan Kirchoff and steered the ball towards goal with his face but it proved easy for Foster.
His second opportunity five minutes later should have rippled the back of the net as he laid on perfectly by the pass from DeAndre Yedlin but the Italian couldn't finish a great piece of play as his first-time volley whistled past the post.
Desperate times, desperate measures
As the game entered the final five minutes and with the news of the Norwich and Newcastle currently held at two a piece began to filter around the Stadium of Light, Sunderland began to push for what would have been a certain winner.
Borini was hoping that would have been third time lucky in the 85th minute as he looked curl it beyond Foster but it didn't look to be the Italian's day as Foster as he pushed the effort away.
The final real opportunity came in the final minute of normal time as Yann M'Vila desperately punted the ball into the feet of Defoe but he could only find the legs of Foster from 10 yards.
The remaining fans inside the Stadium of Light thought they had stolen the points right at the death as N'Doye as the ball in the back of the net in the fourth minute of added time.
Celebrations were however cut short as the flag was rightly waved for offside and with Norwich's eventual 3-2 win over Rafael Benitez's side, it proved to be a miserable afternoon for Sunderland's top-flight survival bid.