John O'Shea scored a second-half equaliser as 10-man Sunderland rescued a 1-1 draw at home to Stoke City on Monday that moved them three points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
Jonathan Walters gave the visitors an early lead when he reacted smartly in the box to poke home from close range on nine minutes after his header had been blocked.
Sunderland had a player sent off for the second week running when Craig Gardner was shown a straight red card for a lunging, studs-first tackle on Charlie Adam with only 33 minutes on the clock.
Stoke looked to be cruising to victory in a one-paced and slightly subdued encounter before defender O'Shea equalised after 63 minutes when he shifted his balance quickly to side-foot home a dangerous Sebastian Larsson corner at the far post.
Sunderland climbed to 15th, level on 38 points with north-east rivals Newcastle United and Norwich City and three clear of Wigan Athletic who are in the relegation zone but have a game in hand.
"The manager spoke at halftime and said how positive we had been in the last 20 minutes of that half and take that forward into the second half," O'Shea told Sky Sports.
"With the pace and power we have we were always capable of causing problems and we showed that."
After slumping to a 6-1 defeat by Aston Villa last week when playmaker Stephane Sessegnon was sent off, Sunderland dug deep to find a route back into the match.
They had looked to be dead and buried after the first half when they created little, but came close to winning the match late in the second half when a low shot from Danny Rose grazed the outside of post.
Stoke stayed 11th on 41 points.