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Tottenham vs. Sunderland: final score 2-1, Christian Eriksen scores the late match winner

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Christian Eriksen spoiled the debut of Jermain Defoe for Sunderland.

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Christian Eriksen scored a late winner for Tottenham Hotspur and Spurs held on in injury time to win 2-1 over Sunderland in their Premier League match at White Hart Lane on Saturday. The win earned Spurs an important three points and kept them in the hunt for fourth place and the final Champions League place.

The match marked the EPL return for Jermain Defoe, who started for the Black Cats against his old club. Defoe received a warm welcome from the White Hart Lane faithful, and he played 75 minutes before being subbed off.

The first half started out in excellent fashion for Spurs. In the fourth minute, Jan Vertonghen found the ball at his feet after a badly-cleared cross from Christian Eriksen. Jan's shout from outside the box took a wild deflection off of Sunderland captain John O'Shea and into the net past Costel Pantilimon to put Tottenham up 1-0.

The match settled down for much of the first half until the 31st minute when Sebastian Larsson fired a screamer of a free kick into the top left corner to equalize the match. There was nothing Hugo Lloris could do about the shot – it was a moment of sheer quality from Larsson.

Tottenham enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half and had few good chances to score, none better than Harry Kane's shot just before halftime that careened off the post. The first half ended 1-1.

Spurs went into the second half without any substitutions and the match seemed to bog down. Spurs had a few opportunities to score – Christian Eriksen displayed some excellent dribbling skill outside the box early in the half that he put just wide.

Looking for the winning goal, Spurs subbed on Emmanuel Adebayor for Roberto Soldado in the 60th minute, his first appearance for Tottenham since the loss to Stoke in early November. Andros Townsend and Paulinho also made late appearances for Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli as Spurs chased that elusive match winner.

And then it came. In the 88th minute Eriksen put a beautiful low shot that went in off the post and in past Pantilimon. It was a great shot off of a great pass from Andros Townsend and a worthy match winner.

Hugo Lloris made a couple of fantastic saves late in the match to deny Danny Graham. Vertonghen had a second goal called back on a ludicrous offside call, but in the end it didn't matter as Spurs got the three points. The final score ended 2-1.

Observations:

  • It wasn't the most convincing of wins, but that doesn't matter. Christian Eriksen has the ability to be able to put the team on his back and produce moments like that. I'll take winning ugly over not winning.

  • Jermain Defoe looked a lot like... well, Jermain Defoe. Speedy, a little one-dimensional, and offside a lot. I love the little guy and he'll score some goals for Sunderland, but Vertonghen and the Spurs back line obviously knew how to deal with him after playing with him for years. (Dier excepted)

  • This match was played frustratingly central for most of the match. I'm not the most tactically astute of the writers here, but I couldn't help but think that Spurs might have opened up Sunderland a little more had they played wider.

  • Eric Dier comported himself quite well in central defense alongside Vertonghen. Neither defender gave up much in the match. A good shift from both of them.

  • Hugo Lloris didn't have much to do for most of the match but when he was called into action he was brilliant, making a few outstanding saves on Danny Graham shots late in the match. 

  • What in the world was that late offside call against Jan? You can't be called offside in your own half, and regardless there was at least one defender between him and the ball. A baffling decision. Sian Massey wouldn't have made that call. That was lame.

  • Christian Eriksen <3 <3 <3

  • The win puts Spurs in fifth place, two points behind Southampton (who have a game in hand) and three behind Manchester United. We're still in the hunt.