Sunderland and Spurs fought out a nervy game on Saturday evening's Premier League kick-off, with Spurs taking the victory by 2-1 in the end.
A rather tame opening half hour was played out with both sides giving the ball away in midfield, committing few players to attack and Spurs limited to a few long-range shots.
That all changed in the 10 minutes before halftime as both teams scored scrappy goals, first with Sunderland taking the lead. A cross from the right should have been dealt with by Hugo Lloris, but the keeper only flapped it down to Adam Johnson.
The winger took a touch and lashed it high into the net to put his team ahead, but the lead didn't last long.
A free-kick from the left seemed to be heading out of play, and Sunderland's defence seemed to stand still, allowing Paulinho to nip in at the near post and poke home after the ball was headed in his direction from the touchline.
Straight after the restart, it got worse for the league's bottom side as John O'Shea put through his own net following a fine run from Moussa Dembele.
Jermaine Defoe hit the post, and Lewis Holtby went close as Spurs took control. But the away side failed to take their chances, and Sunderland launched their own attacks late on. Substitute Fabio Borini had a chance, and Steven Fletcher headed just wide, before Defoe hit the woodwork for a second time at the opposite end.
However, the biggest chance for a goal came when referee Lee Mason missed a quite blatant handball in the penalty area from Spurs' Sandro, who stretched out an arm to divert away a corner kick.
Mason's failure to award the penalty robbed Sunderland of their last chance to score, and Spurs took the points.
11 - Sunderland have lost 11 points from winning positions this season, the most in the Premier League. Lapse.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) Dec. 7, 2013
As per BBC Sport, Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas:
It was a very important win for us. It completes a good, good week, a good start to December. Two away fixtures, a Premier League midweek fixture and Manchester United at home was always a difficult scenario following our defeat against City, so it's a great fightback from the team finally completed. And we have put ourselves back on track in a position where we can challenge for the top.
And Sunderland manager Gus Poyet on his side's habit of scoring own goals:
One, two, three - bad luck. Five? Too many. Me, I believe in coincidence once, twice. Five? No, I don't. Somehow always something happens. Who is going to be next? Do you know? Let me know so I don't play him.
Key Player Grades
Steven Fletcher: D
Didn't look fit, didn't contribute enough to link the play and rarely teamed up with his strike partner. One early chance was skewed wide, and he never looked likely to find the net thereafter.
Jermaine Defoe: B
Just missed a goal. His movement and work-rate were the opposite of Fletcher's, and he will be disappointed not to have scored, especially with hitting the woodwork twice.
Lewis Holtby: B
Often Spurs' most creative player in the opening hour and certainly the one most prepared to have a go from range. His passing was reliable without being overly incisive, and it was a little bit of a surprise when he was subbed late on.
|Sunderland Player Grades|
|Tottenham Player Grades|
After earlier results, Sunderland really needed to pick up points at home. The defeat leaves them five points adrift of the teams outside the relegation zone. Spurs' second win in a week lifts them to six ahead of the Christmas run of games.
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