Hosting Villa almost broke the deadlock with the game barely a minute old. Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet's clearance struck Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor. The ball dropped to Andreas Weimann, but the youngster was unable to beat a retreating Mignolet.
The Austrian then had another chance in the 27th minute, but he shot into the side netting from a narrow angle.
Sunderland struggled to create chances during the opening half, with their only real effort arriving just before the break when Nicklas Bendtner headed over from inside the area.
The Black Cats possessed a greater attacking threat after the restart and went close to opening the scoring in the 65th minute when Stephane Sessegnon crossed for James McClean. However, the Irish winger lifted his effort over the bar from six yards out.
Bendtner then thought he had given the away side the lead ten minutes from time when he converted Sebastian Larsson's cross. The Dane's strike was ruled out for offside though.
Bendtner's effort was the last meaningful sight of goal that either side could muster as the spoils were shared.
That wasn't the last of the action though, as Sunderland midfielder Craig Gardner was handed his marching orders for a second bookable offence against his former club.