Zenden's finish has hint of Van Basten

Sunderland 3 Tottenham Hotspur 1
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The Independent Online

It might have been enough to persuade Hans de Roon, the former clerk at Rotterdam City Hall who took early retirement in 1994 and bought a terraced house next door to Roker Park, to move back to Wearside again. Though domiciled in Breda these days, the Dutchman still follows his beloved red and whites and he was perfectly positioned in row 23 of the North Stand to behold the flourish of Oranje artistry that decided Saturday's vivid Premier League encounter at the Stadium of Light.

It came at that particular end of the ground, four minutes from time: a cross pulled back from the right by Jordan Henderson to the far side of the Spurs penalty area and a flying left-footed volley hooked across goal high into the top-right corner by Boudewijn Zenden. It was not quite as stunning as Marco van Basten's classic finish (it was executed from the opposite side of the box and from not so acute an angle) but to any Dutchman in the house it must have brought back the blinding vision of that masterpiece from the European Championship final of 1988.

Even Harry Redknapp could appreciate its brilliance. "An amazing finish," the Tottenham manager said in the aftermath of a defeat that ended his team's run of five league victories. "One of the all-time great volleys." To the Tottenham manager it must have felt like a blow to the solar plexus – Sunderland's Dutch substitute, a three-time judo champion of Limburg in his younger days, doing what Darren Bent could not quite manage.

Having delivered two digs to the ribs of his former employers in the opening half an hour, the Spurs old boy was unable to finish off Harry's Hotspurs. As the Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, reflected after a victory that banished the relegation clouds from Wearside: "It could have been a wonder day for Darren. It wasn't quite, but we mustn't forget he's been fantastic for Sunderland."

By the immutable football law of the player with a point to prove against his former club, it was always liable to be a dramatic day for the striker deemed surplus to Spurs' requirements by Redknapp last summer. The Sunderland fans were still taking their seats, singing about Bent being "red and white" and "dynamite", when the man himself exploded into action, stabbing in a loose ball from close range after Heurelho Gomes could only parry a diving header from Fraizer Campbell.

That was his 21st Premier League goal for Sunderland and number 22 followed from the penalty spot after a handball offence by Kyle Walker. His haul ought to have been up to 24 by the final whistle but in the 41st and 66th minutes, the England World Cup hopeful had further penalties saved by Tottenham's Brazilian goalkeeper.

After Peter Crouch halved the deficit with a 72nd-minute header, Sunderland had to rely on the brilliance of Scottish goalkeeper Craig Gordon, before Zenden's spectacular finish consigned Spurs to their first defeat in 10 league and cup matches.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Gordon; Ferdinand, Turner, Da Silva, Richardson; Henderson, Meyler, Cattermole, Malbranque (Zenden, 78); Campbell (Bardsley, 88), Bent (Jones, 78). Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Liddle, Kilgallon, Benjani.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; K Walker, Bassong, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto (Kranjcar, h-t); Bentley (Defoe, h-t), Palacios, Modric, Bale; Gudjohnsen, Pavlyuchenko (Crouch, 71). Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Rose, Livermore, Dervite.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

Booked: Sunderland Cattermole, Malbranque.

Man of the match: Cattermole.

Attendance: 43,184.

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