Sunderland fought back to secure a draw against Middlesbrough their fellow promotion contenders in the Championship in an error-ridden yet captivating Tees-Wear derby at the Riverside

It took more than an hour for the first goal to come, as Marcus Forss seized control of a scrappy attempt and fiercely struck the dropping ball beyond Anthony Patterson to put Boro in the lead.

However, the Wearsiders found an equalizer when Jack Clarke’s outstanding pass from the left found Nazariy Rusyn in space. With a defender closing in, Rusyn half-volleyed the ball past Tom Glover at the near post.

This set the stage for a tense, end-to-end finish, but neither team managed to secure a victory.

Whether this rivalry is truly considered a derby by the fans or not, there was palpable tension off the field and fierce competition on it, making it an open and imperfect showcase of two teams with ambitions of returning to past glories.

Boro aimed for their first double over their A19 rivals since 2017 but had to settle for a single point. The draw leaves them four points off the top six, maintaining their 12th position. However, they have a game in hand over most teams above them.

Similarly, Sunderland could have climbed above Hull City into the playoff places with a victory. The character displayed in a challenging environment will be a pleasing aspect for manager Michael Beale.

The Black Cats could have given themselves more than just a point when Clarke moved across the goal in the first half and squared to Abdoullah Ba. However, Ba’s tame close-range effort was blocked by Rav van den Berg on the goal line.

Despite that golden chance, the home side appeared more dynamic, especially in the second half.

Under Michael Carrick’s management, Boro has found a formula for entertaining football, evident in January arrival Finn Azaz’s impressive performance. His movement and vision, alongside Hayden Hackney, repeatedly carved open the Sunderland defense.

Sam Greenwood consistently got behind the defense but couldn’t find the finish to beat Patterson. Azaz also missed a chance as he skied the ball when the Sunderland keeper parried into his path.

Luke Ayling’s shot went wide, and Forss was inches away from another goal when Patterson’s clearance deflected off him and hit the post.

Both teams still have time to ensure they are in the end-of-season promotion mix, with more than a third of the campaign remaining, just as they did last season.

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick told BBC Radio Tees:

“The boys are disappointed and feel that we could have and should have got a lot more from the game.

“We controlled the game and limited them to next to nothing in the second half.

“It is not easy to stop a good Sunderland team from doing anything in the game.

“We create opportunities, but taking them at the right time is something we have to get better at.”

Sunderland boss Michael Beale told BBC Radio Newcastle:

“I thought first half we were really good in terms of our attacking play, and again we’ve missed a big opportunity in an away game and you’re wondering if that’s going to hurt you.z z z z z z z z z z z z z

“In the first half, we got into some really interesting areas without executing. I was pleased with the first half; both teams went for each other.

“We didn’t start the second half well; we conceded off the second phase of a set-play, and we can’t keep conceding goals from set-plays.

“Our reaction to that was really good; we scored, and in the last 10 minutes, I felt we ought to get a winner. Balls are flashing across goal, and we’re not there to get the last touch. I think it’s a big point.”