FRAIZER Campbell's first goal since April 2010 secured Sunderland an FA Cup fourth-round replay after the 140th Wear-Tees derby ended in a 1-1 draw.
Barry Robson's 16th-minute strike fired Middlesbrough into an early lead, and the visitors just about edged an action-packed first half.
However, Robson turned from hero to villain shortly before the hour mark and his poor back-pass let in James McClean, and the winger squared for Campbell to equalise.
The Sunderland striker has suffered a succession of serious knee injuries, and yesterday's appearance was his first in almost a year and a half.
The pre-match build-up had focused on Lee Cattermole lining up against close friend and fellow captain Matthew Bates, but in the end the Sunderland skipper was forced to miss out through a hamstring injury sustained in training yesterday.
In his absence, the Black Cats began somewhat tentatively, although David Vaughan went close with a 15th-minute free-kick that looped on to the roof of the net.
Sixty second later, however, and Sunderland were behind. Faris Haroun crossed from the right, and John O'Shea made two weak attempts to head clear. The second fell to Robson, and the Boro midfielder hammered an excellent first-time volley past Simon Mignolet.
The goal was no more than Boro deserved after a bright start, and the Teessiders went on to just about shade the opening period.
They came close to grabbing a second goal on the stroke of half-time, but Lukas Jutkiewicz, who was making his first Boro start after joining from Coventry, dragged a 14-yard shot wide of the target.
The miss meant the visitors entered the break with just a one-goal advantage, but they felt they should have been level after a controversial incident in the 39th minute.
Kieran Richardson crossed from the left, and referee Kevin Friend failed to spot that Craig Gardner had controlled the ball with his hand. The midfielder drilled home a low strike via the base of the right-hand post, but the assistant disallowed the goal because Connor Wickham had strayed offside. Wickham, however, did not touch the ball, although it could be argued his proximity to the goalmouth meant he was interfering with play.
Either way, the incident was to be Wickham's final contribution of note as he was substituted for Campbell at half-time having spent much of the first half clutching his knee.
Campbell was making his first appearance for almost 18 months, and he had an immediate impact as he claimed an equaliser within 14 minutes of being on the field.
Robson conceded possession to McClean, and the Irishman squared for Campbell to drill a precise first-time effort into the corner.
Campbell looped a header over the bar shortly after, and Boro were forced to play the final ten minutes with teenager Connor Ripley in goal after Danny Coyne sustained a thigh injury.
However, they hung on to secure a replay that is provisionally scheduled for the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday, February 7.
SUNDERLAND (4-4-1-1): Mignolet; Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown (Turner 60), Richardson; Larsson, Gardner, Vaughan (Colback 80), McClean; Sessegnon; Wickham (Campbell 46).
Subs (not used): Westwood (gk), Elmohamady, Meyler, Ji.
MIDDLESBROUGH (4-2-3-1): Coyne (Ripley 80); McMahon, Bates, Hines, Hoyte; R Williams, Robson; Haroun, Emnes, McDonald; Jutkiewicz.
Subs (not used): Bennett, L Williams, Martin, Park, Main, Smallwood.