Liverpool began 2017 with a disappointing draw after 4 consecutive victories.
Manager Jurgen Klopp was chasing a 5-match winning run in the League - a feat not yet achieved by the German since his move to England in October 2015.
Despite taking the lead on two occasions the reds conceded two penalties, both fired in by Jermaine Defoe to equalise.
Liverpool still have a hugely improved points total but with Chelsea in Premier League stat-breaking mood there is little room for error if the reds want to be genuine title challengers.
Chelsea face Spurs tomorrow and could go 8 points clear with a win.
Despite playing less than 48 hours ago, Klopp picked an almost unchanged side. The only change was an enforced one - with Jordan Henderson set to miss the next two cup games with injury. Klopp replaced him with Daniel Sturridge who made his first league start since October.
The game was a very open, and even, game with both goalkeepers tested heavily in the opening 15 minutes. But it was Liverpool who broke the deadlock during a period of sustained pressure.
The corner was sent in and Lovren volleyed an attempt goalbound. It bounced up and Sturridge nodded over Mannone.
The reds lead wouldn't last.
The ref ruled Ragnar Klavan tripped Ndong just inside the area and Defoe fired it past the fingertips of Simon Mignolet.
James Milner was replaced by Alberto Moreno at the end of the first half and Mane had the reds best chance in the early stages.
Liverpool got themselves ahead once more with just under 20 minutes to go.
From a Liverpool corner, Sunderland managed to head the ball towards their own back post where Mane was waiting to bundle the ball over the line.
But in his final game before he heads to the African Cup of Nations, Mane then gave away a foolish penalty. There was less than 10 minutes to go.
Facing a Sunderland free kick Sadio pushed out his hand to stop the ball and the referee quickly pointed to the spot.
It was left to Defoe to once again step up and equalise.
The reds did had some further chances in the dying moments but a late winner was not to arrive.
Liverpool remain in 2nd but the 4 point gap over Man City has been cut to just two points.