This game had entered injury time when Gareth Bale broke through the heart of the Sunderland defence. As Harry Redknapp later agreed, it looked like one of those moments when Bale would polish his star. Instead, Craig Gardner appeared and produced a brilliantly timed, sliding tackle (remember them?). It brought spectators from their seats, and it deserved to.
But it was also the most vociferous moment of the game, and that should say as much. The gentle verbal jousting between both managers afterwards did appear at times to have a bit more penetration than their teams.
Redknapp called Sunderland the away team. Martin O'Neill was unimpressed and relishes the underdog tag. He rightly questions what clubs like Tottenham expect his side to do. They work hard, they close you down and they sit deep when they need to.
He also backed up his argument that teams will do what they have to do, as his men do, and used asproof the visitors' doubling upon James McClean.
"They set themselves up to frustrate us," said Redknapp. "They didn't come out that much. They were looking to hit us on the break. They were like the away team. We passed and passed but there was not space to get in behind them.
"They work hard. They do graft, Lee Cattermole and Craig Gardner are going to get after you. They put a shift in, all of them. They stuck in there. It is difficult when teams don't come out. There was not a lot of space to get into.
"We had one or two good chances. At half-time I said we'd be disappointed if we don't win here today, but a point is a point."
And O'Neill then made his. "The news has come through that Tottenham were a bit frustrated;oh well, we had to play strongly," said the Sunderland manager. "We don't have the same resources at this moment. Hopefully at some stage or another in our development it might happen. It was a tough afternoon for us, but it was for them as well.
"I naturally disagree. He [Redknapp] has the players to be able to play. Just last week at White Hart Lane, Harry set out in a manner in which to stop Swansea playing, initially. He would have known it was going to be tough here today.
"They are all good players. James McClean was up against one of the very best full-backs playing in the League and yet Tottenham had a man covering. We were terribly frustrated by that.
"The last two games we've played against sides vying for the title and the Champions' League, and while we didn't reach the same heights as we did last week against Man City, Harry would have known he was in for a tough afternoon, and that's the way you want it."
It was all about tenacity and attrition, which meant it was a game that suited Sunderland. As Redknapp correctly said, Cattermole and Gardner were relentless, and Scott Parker will have had few busier afternoons in the tackling stakes. The end product was a limited set of opportunities and a quiet afternoon for both goalkeepers.
In the 11th minute, Luka Modric turned and shot quickly from the edge of the Sunderland penalty area. Simon Mignolet got down quickly to make a relatively routine stop. In the 78th minute, Stéphane Sessègnon crossed from the left and Seb Larsson headed pretty much straight at Tottenham's Brad Friedel, who caught the ball fairly simply. That was pretty much the top and bottom of both goalkeepers' afternoon.
"We're in a great position," added Redknapp. "We're still in the box seat. We haven't got to play any of the top six. It's going to be close. It's going to go right down to the wire.
"Newcastle have done a miracle, they've done fantastically well, really full credit to them, it's been amazing, they're right in the picture. It is up to anyone who can have a good run. I feel we're playing well."
Sunderland (4-4-2): Mignolet; Bardsley (Richardson, 80), Turner, Kilgallon, Colback; Larsson, Gardner, Cattermole (Vaughan, 76), McClean; Bendtner, Sessègnon.
Tottenham (4-1-4-1): Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Parker; Van der Vaart (Defoe, 83), Sandro (Lennon, 65), Modric, Bale; Adebayor (Saha, 78).
Referee Chris Foy.
Man of the match Cattermole (Sunderland).
Match rating 3/10.Reuse content