For once, Glenn Hoddle could enjoy a relatively trouble-free day on the road. After the touchline spats, refereeing controversies and post-match acrimony at Everton, Blackburn and Chelsea, the Tottenham Hotspur manager savoured the satisfaction of an impressive win on Wearside last night, his side's first away from White Hart Lane in the Premiership this season.
A freak goal in the 26th minute by Christian Ziege and a headed finish by Teddy Sheringham six minutes into the second half proved sufficient to overcome a disjointed, dispirited Sunderland team, although Spurs were obliged to endure a nervy finish after Kevin Phillips' 79th-minute goal belatedly stirred Peter Reid's men from their stupor.
"I'm delighted with the way we played," Hoddle said, with justification. At times the man who brought us Diamond Lights saw his team play some dazzling stuff at the Stadium of Light, although they almost made as poor a start as they did at Sunderland in April, when they trailed 2-0 after 13 minutes but won 3-2. With less than a minute on the clock, only a brilliant flying save by Neil Sullivan kept out a Julio Arca volley that was heading for the top left corner. It was a close call, but it merely sparked Spurs into attacking life.
Indeed, Tottenham ought to have taken the lead in the eighth minute when Ziege's cross from the left found Gus Poyet unmarked on the six-yard line only for the Uruguayan to head over with the goal at his mercy. Les Ferdinand was similarly profligate a minute later, scuffing his shot after prising open the Sunderland defence, but Spurs maintained the control they had gained principally due to the scheming of Sheringham and Darren Anderton, who excelled in an attacking central midfield role.
It was a surprise, nevertheless, when Tottenham took the lead in the 26th minute. Jurgen Macho's goal seemed under little threat when Sheringham played the ball out to Ziege wide on the left. The German wing-back was at least 35 yards from goal but his curling right-footed delivery a cross intended for Ferdinand caught the wind and sailed into the top right corner, over the despairing reach of Sunderland's Austrian goalkeeper.
There were muted jeers around the ground as Macho and his colleagues left the field at half-time and the mood of the natives hardly improved when Tottenham increased their lead in the 51st minute. Simon Davies breezed past Bernt Haas on the left and crossed for Sheringham to score with a downward header that cannoned off Macho's body. That appeared to be that as Sunderland struggled to string passes together, let along mount a fightback. But then, with 11 minutes remaining, Haas unleashed a long throw-in from the right, Niall Quinn flicked a header into the Tottenham goalmouth and Phillips hooked a fine volley past Sullivan from eight yards.
Sunderland finally whipped up an attacking head of steam. They appealed for a penalty when Michael Gray struck the ball against Mauricio Taricco's outstretched arm at point blank range, although the contact was clearly unintentional, as Peter Reid later acknowledged.
Justice was also seen to be done when Chris Perry hacked a loose ball off the line in injury time. It was a victory Tottenham richly deserved.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Macho 4; Haas 5, McCartney 4 (Williams, 57, 5), Craddock 5, Gray 5; Arca 5, McCann 5, Schwarz 6, Kilbane 4 (Laslandes, 78); Phillips 7, Quinn 6. Substitutes not used: Kennedy (gk), Bellion, Thirlwell.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Sullivan 7; Taricco 7, Perry 8, King 7, Ziege 8; Poyet 7, Anderton 8 (Leonhardsen, 83), Freund 7, Davies 7; Sheringham 8, Ferdinand 7 (Rebrov, 69, 6). Substitutes not used: Keller (gk), Etherington, Thelwell.
Referee: P Durkin (Portland).Reuse content