Sunderland 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Scorers: Johnson Paulinho, Opp. o.g.
Team: Lloris; Walker, Capoue, Dawson, Naughton; Dembele (Sandro), Paulinho; Lennon, Holtby (Townsend), Chadli (Sigurdsson); Defoe Subs: Friedel, Fryers, Lamela, Soldado
Spurs dominated possession in the first half but a mistake by Hugo Lloris gifted Sunderland a goal with their first effort on target after 36 minutes. Spurs responded with a goal poked home by Paulinho from a corner, four minutes before the interval. Spurs’ play was ponderous while Sunderland competed for every ball and broke forward with power and pace. The home side failed to trouble Lloris though as they fired their two early shots off target when they had created good positions.
Spurs had more efforts on target with the goalkeeper saving from Lewis Holtby after 17 minutes, pushing the ball out for a corner. Spurs had a number of corners from blocked efforts on goal and attempted crosses. They rarely troubled Sunderland but Nacer Chadli had a header caught by the goalkeeper as defenders climbed all over Michael Dawson. Defoe worked hard trying to find space and he collected a ball in midfield after Chadli chested it on to him. Running from deep he cut across the edge of the area to open up the goal and fired in a shot but a late block put the ball out for a corner.
Sunderland took the lead when Lloris punched out a cross to Johnson who showed no mercy, blasting the ball into the net on 36 minutes. The equaliser came after a foul on Aaron Lennon. The ball was played long to the back post by Kyle Walker, Chadli managed to get his head to the ball and knocked it back into the six yard box where Paulinho reacted quickest to prod the ball past the goalkeeper. In added time, Chadli had a header just over the bar from another corner.
The second half started in a lively fashion with a poor back pass almost creating an opportunity for Defoe. Spurs had the ball in the net after good link up play by Paulinho and Lennon to Chadli but the winger had been offside before putting in the cross. Spurs were pressing much more quickly to win the ball further up the field as they increased the pressure on Sunderland who were struggling to get out of their own half. Mousa Demblele picked up the ball and made a good run into the left of the area he played in a cross which deflected off O’Shea and past the goalkeeper with only 4 minutes gone.
Spurs should have added to the goal and made their win secure as they had a period of complete control over the next 20 minutes. On 53 minutes, a quick break by Defoe to Chadli with a ball to Holtby but a Sunderland player recovered to take the ball off Holtby’s foot. Walker then used his pace to outstrip the defender and played the ball back to Holtby whose shot was blocked. The following minute, a cross from Lennon was headed onto the post by Defoe.
Chadli had a shot pushed out by the goalkeeper, then a Lennon cross fell to Paulinho but he missed his shot. After 65 minutes, Holtby played Defoe into the area but the striker’s shot across goal and past the far post.
Sunderland then started to play the ball forward from distance but the Spurs defence stood up to the test although Sandro who replaced Dembele was fortunate when the ball hit his arm from a cross at a corner. Townsend replaced Holtby and almost made an immediate impact with his first cross to Defoe but he flicked it against the post.
Spurs survived late pressure with Dawson making a clearance when the ball ran loose in the area after Lloris was forced to push out a cross after Capoue had been fouled on the edge of the area. Spurs were ruing their missed chances through the five minutes of added time but held out for a deserved three points to move back into 6th place in the Premier league.
For the period in the second half when Spurs had total control they played with crisp, sharp passing and movement – it was the best they have shown all season.