Controversial award gives the visitors a late Christmas present as Osman goes down without contact in the box to secure a share of the spoils
Substitute Jack Colback opened the scoring in the 26th minute having come on for the injured Titus Bramble early on, and the hosts led going into half time.
But Everton were awarded a soft penalty as Leon Osman appeared to kick the ground before falling over inside the area, with Leighton Baines converting the chance from the spot.
Martin O’Neill kept his faith in Nicklas Bendtner as a lone striker, with support being offered by Stephane Sessegnon. Bramble partnered Wes Brown in the centre of defence with John O’Shea lining up at left-back.
David Moyes opted for a similar 4-4-1-1 formation with Tim Cahill offering support behind Louis Saha. Osman lined up on the right of midfield with Royston Drenthe wide on the left and a central pairing of Phil Neville and John Heitinga.
The first save from either goalkeeper came for Keiren Westwood in the seventh minute after a long clearance from Phil Jagielka. Brown misjudged the bounce and allowed Cahill to get onto the end of it, but his shot from an acute angle was stopped by the Sunderland ‘keeper.
Everton were on top in the opening 15 minutes, with Leighton Baines attacking well down the left. He forced Bramble into a difficult clearance before whipping in a corner that Cahill headed wide.
And Saha had the best chance of the opening stages as he backed off his at the back post before completely miscuing his header from another Baines corner.
Sunderland’s first real opportunity to get ta the Everton defence came in the 19th minute as Bendtner was released with a fine volleyed pass from Sessegnon.
The Danish striker was one-one-one with Tony Hibbert but the defender did well not to commit himself and forced the striker to stall on the ball and eventually the chance was gone.
Moments later, O’Neill was forced into his first substitution of the afternoon as Titus Bramble left the field through injury and was replaced by Jack Colback who moved into midfield. John O’Shea moved into the centre of defence with Kieran Richardson at left-back.
And it was the substitute Colback who opened the scoring in the 26th minute, the earliest by a substitute since Dwight Yorke scored in the 23rd minute in October 2004.
A good move from Sessegnon, running across the defence before feeding Colback, whose shot was deflected by Sylvain Distin over the top of Tim Howard and into the Everton net.
It was a goal against the run of play, it must be said, but Sessegnon was allowed far too much time on the ball by the visitors, and he made them pay with a nice run and lay-off for Colback.
Drenthe came close to restoring the parity in the 32nd minute, trapping the ball before turning and shooting just wide from 25 yards.
Minutes later, Bendtner again found himself with an opportunity in front of goal, but again he squandered the opening by taking too long on the ball. He could have shot first time on his left foot, but elected to try and move it onto his right, much to the frustration of the home fans.
Soon after, the hosts had another opportunity as Sebastian Larsson lined up a free-kick in dangerous territory, but Hetinga did well to block it, taking it directly in the face and leading to a short stoppage.
That was the last real action of the first half as the hosts left the pitch to a good round of applause, with the visitors’ lack of firepower being exposed after some good build up play early in the half.
Sunderland took to the field for the second half with another fresh face as O’Neill was forced into another change with Craig Gardner replacing Phil Bardsley at right-back.
Sessegnon almost doubled the lead a minute into the second half as he tried to get onto a through ball, but Howard was brave and beat him to the ball.
But in the 50th minute referee Howard Webb made perhaps one of the worst penalty calls this season, gifting the visitors a late Christmas present and a way back into the match by awarding Osman a penalty.
The Everton player ghosted past Sunderland players and into the box before lining up a shot and taking a piece of turf out of the ground as he kicked the floor, falling over in the process.
Referee Webb adjudged that he had been brought down and pointed to the spot, for Baines to dispatch the penalty into the corner following some distractions from Westwood.
The hosts reacted well to the goal, however, though the wind was certainly playing its part. Richardson took a corner from the right and almost whipped it straight into Howard’s goal, with the ‘keeper tipping it over. Saha then avoided embarrassment by a matter of inches as he headed Larsson’s corner onto the roof of his own net.
There was a moment of confusion at the stadium in the 70th minute as Tim Howard fumbled a cross and for a second appeared to have knocked the ball into his own net, but the ball did not cross the line.
Everton were still struggling to get into the game despite their goal, with Sunderland looking the most likely to get a winner.
Chances were at a very high premium for both sides, perhaps as a result of two rather negative formations from the managers, with set pieces and counter attacks looking like the only way a goal would come, though Sessegnon continued his almost one-manned assault against the tedium the match was descending into.
Everton seemed content to run down the clock with Sunderland heaving the ball into the box in hope of a late goal, but it just wasn’t clicking for the Black Cats and it ended all square.
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