John O'Shea was relieved to have claimed a point as Demba Ba's late own goal cancelled out Yohan Cabaye's strike for Newcastle United in the 1-1 draw.
Cabaye scored after three minutes at the Stadium of Light before Cheick Tiote was sent off after 25 minutes for a rash kick at Sunderland's Steven Fletcher.
Sunderland grabbed a point when O'Shea's flick on from Sebastian Larsson's free-kick struck Ba flush in the face and flew past a startled Tim Krul.
"It was a great game to be involved in, both sets of players wanted to win so much, it was vital not to lose the game," said O'Shea.
"Newcastle have a good shape about them, work hard on their shape with two banks of four and the big men up front, so it was difficult, but we managed to get the goal."
Larsson added: "When we had that much possession for so long we were starting to doubt it maybe, but luckily we managed to get the equaliser.
"It would have been devastating to lose that game, all that possession and not to get a goal would have been harsh."