Sunderland vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Instant reaction

Matthew Lewis

Tottenham conceded a poor goal in the first half to fall behind Sunderland, but they surged back early in the second half and held on for three points.

Was it pretty? No, absolutely not, but when are wins at the Stadium of Light ever pretty for anyone? Even when Sunderland play their absolute worst football and never look like a team in with a chance of taking points, they're always a tough side to create and score against at home. Tottenham Hotspur failed to turn a bright start into goals and paid for it just before the end of the first half, but fought back for a 2-1 victory.

Andre Villas-Boas sent out both Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor again, keeping both Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson on the bench. Spurs looked comfortable and creative in a 4-4-2 formation, but struggled to do anything with their possession in the first half. The best chance of the half fell to Adebayor, who had an opportunity to turn in a ball by Defoe at the back post, but he smacked the bar when he should have scored.

John O'Shea put Sunderland in front just before the break, capitalizing on a set piece opportunity in the 40th minute. Kyle Walker, who had a very up-and-down day, gave away the free kick that led to the goal with a silly foul. Spurs failed to clear Larsson's free kick, and O'Shea finished for his first Premier League goal in a Sunderland shirt.

Spurs came out flying in the second half, though their equalizer was a fortunate one. It came via a corner, with Carlos Cuellar turning in an own goal. What he was thinking was anyone's guess, and his late reaction caused him to turn a perfect, unstoppable header past Simon Mignolet.

That equalizer gave Spurs a boost, and they went up just three minutes later. Aaron Lennon netted the brilliant winner with a great touch around his defender, a burst of pace into the box, and a quick touch by Mignolet.

Tottenham pushed for a third goal for most of the second half, but turned conservative in the closing minutes. Gareth Bale picked up a very questionable yellow card for simulation when he was contacted in the box by Craig Gardner, and will miss Tuesday's match as a result. While Bale appeared to go down a bit easily, there was no doubt that Gardner made contact, both with his knee and with a tug on his shoulder.

Scott Parker replaced Lennon in the 84th minute, and his composure on the ball helped Tottenham hold on for all three points.

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