A LATE, late Callum McManaman equaliser earned a point for bottom club Sunderland at the Stadium of Light as Middlesbrough missed out on a golden chance to climb into the top six.

A double from Patrick Bamford looked like helping Middlesbrough back into the play-off places until the a dramatic game had one final twist.

Boro turned the game around in a four-goal second half after an incident-packed opening period when both teams had a man sent off.

Sunderland’s Jake Clarke-Salter was the first to go for a bad challenge on Adama Traore and then the Middlesbrough winger followed him down the tunnel for an off the ball incident with Bryan Oviedo.

Before those dismissals Sunderland had already claimed the lead courtesy of Joel Asoro’s 11th minute poacher’s finish.

Wearside hopes that they could end a winless run that has extended to six, four defeats, were dashed after the restart.

Bamford (49) and Grant Leadbitter (53), from the spot, had put the visitors ahead before Jonny Williams levelled things up again five minutes later.

But Bamford delivered again with 22 minutes remaining to restore Middlesbrough’s advantage and from that moment it didn’t look like Sunderland would conjure up another leveller.

But in the sixth minute of added time Oviedo’s deep cross was volleyed in at the back post by McManaman to earn a point.

Up until the sending-off, Sunderland had looked strong and purposeful. They looked to counter through the pace of Asoro and Maja, while they defended strongly too.

There wasn’t much for either goalkeeper to do in those early exchanges but it was Sunderland who looked more likely to threaten and they were rewarded with the opener.

When Adam Matthews threw a long ball into the six yard box a goal looked unlikely, with towering defenders surrounding the smaller frames of the Black Cats’ front two.

But Maja’s back somehow managed to flick the ball on from in between George Friend and Ben Gibson, and then Asoro was able to get between Daniel Ayala and Ryan Shotton to finish.

That pairing was handed the chance together in attack because of Ashley Fletcher’s unavailability against his parent club – and they caused problems.

Sunderland had won all of their four previous games under Coleman whenever they have taken the lead, so the onus was on them to maintain the standards they had set.

But Clarke-Salter’s reckless lunge on Traore in the 24th minute, on the far touchline, completely missed the ball and wiped out the man and the red card was immediately shown.

Traore was given a rough ride by the Sunderland fans from that moment and he had his own rush of blood minutes after he had wasted a fantastic chance from just inside the area by missing the target.

As a corner was sent into Lee Camp’s box and evaded everyone, Traore and Bryan Oviedo got involved in a tangle near the post and it led to the Middlesbrough winger raising his forearm.

After a chat with his assistant, and demands for a red from fans and players in red and white, referee Tim Robinson issued his second red with eight minutes remaining of the first half.

Traore, who had to be held back from complaining to the fourth official by team-mates, was incensed but Sunderland and Clarke-Salter had been given something of a lifeline. He is likely to be in trouble with the FA for his reaction.

Middlesbrough, who were unable to get Britt Assombalonga involved as much as he would like after being handed the chance to replace Rudy Gestede, did press more after that but Camp wasn’t seriously tested.

And then within eight minutes of the restart Middlesbrough had turned the game completely on its head.

Bamford’s brilliance pulled it level when he turned in the area after controlling Friend’s knockdown before picking out the bottom corner.

And within four minutes Leadbitter put them ahead from the spot after Assombalonga was brought down in the area by Camp.

Sunderland showed fight to get back into it again and were soon level. Oviedo darted to the line and his cut back was side-footed inside the bottom corner by Williams.

Sunderland’s hopes were short-lived though because Bamford, who had also wasted another chance, did it again when he got in behind the defence, rounded Camp and then found the net.

And then despite chances at both ends it was down to McManaman to fire in the late leveller to cap an entertaining day.

SUNDERLAND (3-5-2): Camp; Kone, O’Shea, Clarke-Salter; Matthews, Cattermole, McNair (Williams 40), Honeyman (McGeady 78), Oviedo; Asoro, Maja (McManaman 65). Subs (not used): Steele (gk), Jones, Robson, Browning.

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-2-3-1): Randolph; Shotton, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Leadbitter (Clayton 75), Besic; Traore, Downing (Howson 75), Bamford; Assombalonga (Harrison 64). Subs (not used): Konstantopoulos (gk), Cranie, Fry, Baker.