Hammers make their point

West Ham United picked up a hard-earned point on their travels following a breathless 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw at Sunderland.

The game, played in front of a raucous crowd of 39,033 at the Stadium of Light, was packed with incident from first to last.

Guille Franco and Carlton Cole put the Hammers two goals up before Sunderland's Kenwyne Jones was sent-off. Andy Reid reduced the arrears before half-time before Kieran Richardson slid in to level. Radoslav Kovac was then also shown the red card late on.

The first half flew past in a haze of goals and cards, with referee Andre Marriner dishing out five bookings and sending-off striker Jones.

The opening half-hour produced chances for both teams, with Valon Behrami and Cole both forcing home goalkeeper Craig Gordon into smart saves. At the other end, Paraguay full-back Paulo Da Silva nearly wrong-footed Robert Green with a long-range effort.

Meanwhile, Black Cats captain Lorik Cana was perhaps lucky to remain on the pitch when, having seen yellow for catching Mark Noble, he twice left Franco in a heap with heavy challenges.

Franco had the last laugh, however, marking his first away start for the club by climaxing a pitch-length, five-man move with an expert close-range finish.

Having caught a Reid corner, Green bowled the ball out to Noble. The midfielder made 30 yards before finding Behrami, who sent Jack Collison in behind the Sunderland back-four.

The Wales international considered his time before rolling the ball to Franco, who got in front of both Da Silva and Michael Turner to clip home at the near-post.

Six minutes later, West Ham had a two-goal lead, with Collison again the provider, sending a clever reverse-pass through to Cole, who made no mistake with an assured left-foot finish from 12 yards.

Unfortunately for the visitors, they were unable to hold on to their two-goal advantage until half-time as, six minutes before the break, Herita Ilunga brought down Steed Malbranque just outside the penalty area. Reid took full advantage, stepping up to curl an inch-perfect free-kick over the wall into the top left-hand corner.

Having got back into the match, Jones was issued with his marching orders for pushing Ilunga. The DR Congo man was booked, joining Darren Bent, Radoslav Kovac and Turner in Marriner's notebook.

The second half started the same way the first had ended, with action all over the pitch.

Within four minutes of the re-start, Gordon and Green had both shown why they are internationals for Scotland and England respectively. First, Gordon blocked Franco's near-post header. Then, Green was called into action twice in the space of 30 seconds, pushing aside Bent's low shot before clawing away Turner's powerful header from the resulting corner.

From then on, despite their numerical disadvantage, Sunderland took control of the game, hitting the crossbar twice within the space of seconds on 65 minutes through Cana and Da Silva. Green also had to be at his best to keep out a powerful header from Turner.

The hosts' pressure finally told with 14 minutes remaining in the shape of a fortuitous equaliser from former West Ham youngster Richardson - the cousin of Academy left-back Jordan Brown - who slid in after Bent's cross had hit Upson's thigh and looped over the stranded Green.

West Ham, with substitutes Alessandro Diamanti and Zavon Hines on for Behrami and Franco, tried to hit back immediately, with both shooting narrowly wide of Gordon's goal.

With three minutes remaining, Marriner produced his seventh yellow and second red card of the game, sending Kovac off for a challenge on Bent.

Even then, the Hammers had a chance to win the game with 90 seconds to go, only for Turner to clear Noble's shot off the line.

Having picked up their first away point since drawing 0-0 at Blackburn on 29 August, West Ham now play twice at home in the space of five days. Aston Villa visit the Boleyn Ground on Wednesday evening, with Everton following them to east London next Sunday.