Tony Pulis' men have now gone four games without a win in the Premier League but have edged clear from the relegation places after Cardiff City slipped to a late 2-1 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.
|BATTLE AT THE BOTTOM
16. West Brom
17. Crystal Palace
The stalemate for Sunderland has put them 18th, level on points with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side but ahead on goal difference.
Sunderland pressured the away side throughout, with Adam Johnson looking particularly lively as he provided Steven Fletcher with plenty of quality deliveries into the box.
Johnson posed a threat after three minutes, cutting in from the right and finding Fletcher, but the chance fizzled out.
Adrian Mariappa picked up a booking after seven minutes for a strong challenge on Fabio Borini, giving Sunderland another chance to test Julian Speroni with a free kick from the left. Marcos Alonso picked up the cleared set-piece on the edge of the box, but failed to find the target.
There were a further two early cautions, first for Joel Ward after just 12 minutes with a high challenge on Sebastian Larsson and then for Liam Bridcutt when he brought down Mile Jedinak three minutes later. The Palace captain then sent the resulting free-kick well over the crossbar from distance.
The home side constantly bombarded Pulis' men with crosses into the box and the pressure almost paid off when Fletcher tried to flick in Borini's low driven delivery, but he was unable to make clean contact.
Phil Bardsley won a free kick on the edge of the box when Jedinak pulled him down, and the Sunderland defender looked to have kicked out, but escaped unpunished.
After all of Sunderland's dominance, goalkeeper Vito Mannone nearly made a catastrophic error when he slipped trying to clear a simple back pass, but he was let off the hook as the danger was cleared.
Johnson then saw his 40th-minute shot from the left result in a massive scramble in the Palace six-yard box, with the referee eventually blowing for a free-kick to ease the pressure on the away side.
Jozy Altidore replaced Fletcher at half time after the former Wolves man picked up an injury just before the break and he nearly made an instant impact when he swivelled in the box, but put his left-footed shot wide after 50 minutes.
Another ball into the box from Sunderland was met by Borini, but he could not keep his volley under the crossbar as it sailed well over.
Larsson was replaced by Craig Gardner on the hour mark as Sunderland pushed for the winner and he was booked only two minutes of arriving on the pitch.
The home side continued to push for a crucial goal in the fight to avoid relegation, but were unable to make a breakthrough as the game ended scoreless.