SUNDERLAND were cast further adrift at the foot of the Premier League after failing to see off Burnley at the Stadium of Light.
After a frustrating and pretty awful first half, the Black Cats created the chances after the restart to win it but fluffed their lines to miss out on a crucial three points.
In the end Sunderland were unable to find the net for the 13th time in the league this season and have won just one of their last 11 fixtures, heightening the threat of relegation with ten matches to go.
The seven point gap to fourth from bottom Swansea will worsen if Paul Clement’s side can go to Bournemouth in the day’s later kick-off and avoid defeat.
Sunderland, who might have won it in stoppage-time had Fabio Borini’s effort not been saved, could also have lost it in the closing stages.
In reality they should have won before that stage having created great chances earlier in the half.
Things had to improve in the second 45 minutes because there was a feeling things couldn’t have got any worse from an entertainment viewpoint before the interval.
Chances were few and far between during a largely uneventful first half when even former Newcastle man Joey Barton, apart from a predictable caution, even stayed out of the spotlight.
The only boos that could be heard when the players headed for the tunnel at the break were for the performance, with Sunderland just doing enough rather than showing the edge required to win it.
Burnley had the best chance of the half. Ashley Barnes, often linked to a move to Wearside earlier in his career, somehow turned Scott Arfield’s cross-shot wide from six yards when it looked easier to score.
That arrived just two minutes before the break. Burnley had a couple of other half chances, while Sunderland’s only decent effort on goal was when Darron Gibson curled Adnan Januzaj’s corner a yard over from distance when he met it first time.
Having defended well, though, with Jason Denayer, playing instead of the injured Lamine Kone, and John O’Shea particularly strong, Sunderland had a chance if they could find their feet in the second half.
Immediately after the restart they created three quickfire chances that would have changed the complexion of the afternoon in an instant.
Instead goalkeeper Tom Heaton was on hand to deny Borini and Januzaj from similar angles. Seb Larsson also turned a Bryan Oviedo cross over the bar from close range.
After a spell of Burnley pressure that came to nothing, there was further chances for Sunderland too.
Billy Jones wasted the best of them all when he somehow got his directions all wrong when he headed Larsson’s back post centre wide from six yards from an unmarked position.
Januzaj fired in a low drive from distance that zipped wide, while Burnley pushed late on. There was still one more effort in stoppage-time but Heaton was again equal to the low drive from Borini. Any glimmer of hope of avoiding the drop is fading on Wearside.
SUNDERLAND (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Jones, Denayer, O’Shea, Oviedo; Rodwell, Gibson (Ndong 74); Januzaj, Borini, Larsson (Khazri 78); Defoe. Subs (not used): Mannone (gk), Lescott, Djilobodji, Manquillo, Honeyman.
BURNLEY (4-4-2): Heaton; Lowton, Mee, Keane, Ward; Boyd (Brady 74), Barton, Hendrick, Arfield; Barnes (Vokes 65); Gray. Subs (not used): Robinson (gk), Flanagan, Defour, Westwood, Tarkowski.