The Black Cats headed into the encounter under all sorts of pressure, picking up just two points from their previous seven matches and contending with strong rumours regarding Dick Advocaat’s job.
The Sun report that the Dutchman will walk away regardless of the result against West Ham, though the opening 40 minutes from his side were so good it seemed a rather far fetched conclusion.
However, Sunderland’s inability to put the game beyond the Hammers gave the visitors hope and Carl Jenkinson’s goal just before half-time set up a somewhat inevitable second half.
A Jeremain Lens red card was shortly followed by a Dimitri Payet equaliser, and what should have been a comfortable home win soon turned into a scrap just to save a point.
Hartson, commentating on the game for the BBC, remarked: "Sunderland were cruising in the first half and Borini misses two good opportunities.”
"There are a lot of games to go but games like today, where they go 2-0 up and get a man sent off, will cost them. It's poor, sloppy defending."
Games like today, especially when Sunderland were on top and in a commanding position, have to end with them taking the three points if they have any real hope of avoiding the drop.
The Black Cats do have quality in their squad, but there is already a gap beginning to form and such opportunities to claim victory won’t come around too often in their current circumstances.