Tottenham failed to capitalise on their superiority as Sunderland's sturdy backline helped David Moyes' men claim a commendable 0-0 draw at home to the Premier League title hopefuls.
Mauricio Pochettino's side spent much of the match on the front foot and they will consider it two points dropped as they struggled to make the most of their pressure.
Sunderland gave a good account of themselves in the first period, their defence doing particularly well to keep Harry Kane quiet, although they were perhaps fortunate to keep 11 players on the field after a dreadful challenge from Jack Rodwell on Mousa Dembele.
At the other end they were lively and in former Spurs man Jermain Defoe they had an effective focal point, with the striker regularly tying Toby Alderweireld in knots.
Spurs' pressure was rather more relentless after the break, spending long periods camped in Sunderland's half of the pitch as they probed for a breakthrough.
But Lamine Kone and Sunderland's disciplined defensive unit held firm to secure a point, leaving Spurs ruing their lack of creative spark against a side battling to stave off relegation.
| in the thick of the action against his former clubSunderland 0 Tottenham 0 January 31, 2017
Spurs unsurprisingly enjoyed the lion's share of possession early on, but Sunderland defended well and prevented them from crafting meaningful chances.
The hosts also threatened going forward, with direct passes to former Spurs man Defoe causing the visitors no end of problems.
Alderweireld looked especially uncomfortable, with an isolated Defoe swatting the Belgian aside before seeing a shot turned wide by the centre-back in the ninth minute.
The pair tussled again 23 minutes in, with Defoe setting up Fabio Borini, who barged his way past Eric Dier and then fired a tame effort straight at Michel Vorm, standing in for the ill Hugo Lloris.
Sunderland could have been reduced to 10 men just after the half-hour mark, though, as Rodwell escaped with a booking after scything Dembele down in cynical fashion.
The Belgian suffered no lasting damage, but the same could not be said about Danny Rose just before the break, as he was forced off after kicking the sole of Billy Jones' foot.
Spurs looked more purposeful going forward after the break, but still they struggled to penetrate Sunderland's increasingly deep backline.
Christian Eriksen did test Vito Mannone 10 minutes into the second period, though the goalkeeper dealt comfortably with the Dane's bouncing 25-yard free-kick.
Spurs' superiority did eventually result in a clear-cut chance just after the hour mark and Victor Wanyama wasted it, heading Son Heung-min's cross over from eight yards despite being unmarked.
The visitors threw men forward in desperate fashion towards the end, with Vincent Janssen introduced for Dembele.
But Spurs looked devoid of craft in their attempts to break through Sunderland's defence and the hosts dug deep to secure a hard-fought point which lifts them off the foot of the table ahead of Hull, who travel to Manchester United on Wednesday.
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