Sunderland left devestated after Virgil van Dijk snatched a stoppage-time equaliser for 10-man Southampton to deny the visitors an important victory at St Mary’s.
After Saints’ Jose Fonte was sent off for hauling down Fabio Borini when the Italian was through on goal, Jermain Defoe put the visitors ahead.
Substitute Defoe finished after good work from Lamine Kone.
Sunderland packed their defence, but Van Dijk still found space in the area to fire in from 12 yards out.
With the bottom three all losing, a win would have taken Sam Allardyce’s side three points clear of the relegation zone.
Despite the disappointment of conceding so late in the match, Sunderland opened a gap over the bottom three, albeit only one point.
Defeats for Newcastle United, Norwich City and Aston Villa will be some comfort for the travelling supporters, who were just seconds away from witnessing a first clean sheet in 15 Premier League games.
Three points would have been a big lift for the Black Cats, but one could still prove crucial.
Sunderland’s next match – in two weeks’ time – is a potentially pivotal Tyne-Wear derby against fellow strugglers Newcastle.