Tottenham vs Sunderland match report: Christian Eriksen shoots Spurs up to fifth with late goal

Tottenham Hostspur 2 Sunderland 1

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The applause as Jermain Defoe was substituted on his old stamping ground a quarter of an hour from time was warm, and tinged with relief that he not scored as usual on debut for a new team.

His contribution was restricted to earning the foul that led to Sebastian Larsson’s equaliser, but as left the field Sunderland were holding on for a valuable point. Then came a dramatic last few minutes, during which Tottenham’s goalkeeper-captain, Hugo Lloris, had to deny Defoe’s replacement, Danny Graham, and Adam Johnson on either side of Christian Eriksen’s deserved winning goal from a low cross by Andros Townsend.

So Spurs moved into fifth place ahead of their neighbours Arsenal, who face a tricky task away to Manchester City this afternoon, while the visitors, with only one win in a dozen games, remained 16th, only a single point from relegation.

When the Wearsiders were humiliated 5-1 here last April, their manager, Gus Poyet, said a miracle was needed to stay up. It was duly achieved after a series of unlikely away results, and they would probably settle for a similarly narrow escape this time.

Poyet was a lot happier than on his last visit, despite the result, after employing a new system of three central defenders, wing-backs and two forwards, with Steven Fletcher alongside Defoe and Adam Johnson just behind them. “When the winning goal is so late it hurts, but we need to be good all the time,” he said. “For a new formation and way of playing, we were doing all right.”

Jermain Defoe is applauded of by supporters of his former team

 He complained about Defoe not having been given a penalty in Sunderland’s first attack, although Jan Vertonghen seemed to do little more than stand still as the former Spurs hero fell over him. The Belgian had already scored at the other end, and right at the finish was denied a second goal in highly unusual circumstances. With Sunderland’s goalkeeper, Costel Pantilimon, stranded upfield after charging forward for a corner kick, Vertonghen shot from some 40 yards into an empty net; the officials indicated there had been only one defender between the ball and goal instead of two, but failed to notice that he was in his own half when taking Paulinho’s pass.

 Spurs had also found room for two strikers, in Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane, but with the latter withdrawn into a line of three attacking midfielders. He was often involved productively in the build-up, as well as hitting a post just before half-time.

Eriksen celebrates his late winner against Sunderland

Sunderland were a goal down in the third minute when the unreliable Santiago Vergini headed weakly out to Verton-ghen, whose shot took a slight deflection. Pantilimon saved well from Eriksen and Soldado but Fletcher had missed a glorious chance for Sunderland before their equaliser. Vertonghen tripped Defoe and Larsson curled in the free-kick perfectly.

Tottenham: (4-2-3-1) Lloris; Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Dembélé (Townsend, 75), Stambouli; Eriksen, Kane, Chadli (Paulinho, 88); Soldado (Adebayor, 61).

Sunderland: (3-5-2) Pantilimon; Vergini, O’Shea, Brown; Jones (Buckley, 92), Rodwell, Johnson, Larsson, Van Aanholt; Defoe (Graham, 75), Fletcher (Wickham, 65).

Referee: Chris Foy.

Man of match: Eriksen (Tottenham)

Match rating: 6/10