29 December 2012 15:53
Carlos Cuellar’s own-goal and a wonderful Aaron Lennon strike saw Tottenham Hotspur come from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 on Saturday.
It was a thoroughly deserved win for Andre Villas-Boas’ team and further enhanced their claims for a Champions League qualification spot as they defeated a largely mediocre Sunderland side at the Stadium of Light.
The hosts made one enforced change from their Boxing Day win over Manchester City, with John O’Shea replacing left-back Danny Rose, who was ineligible against his parent club, while Spurs made a change to their central defence, with Steven Caulker and Michael Dawson coming in for Jan Vertonghen and William Gallas.
The opening 20 minutes was a tight and cagey affair, with neither side able to stamp a footprint on the game, however, as the half wore on it was the visitors who began to dominate proceedings.
And after half an hour they came within inches of getting the opening goal as Jermain Defoe found space on the left side of the penalty area and curled a shot toward the far post.
His effort was not properly cleared by defender Carlos Cuellar and Emmanuel Adebayor pounced, only to see his shot cannon back off the crossbar from little more than four yards out.
The visitors kept up a sustained period of pressure, creating several half-chances, so when the first goal came, it did so very much against the run of play.
Sebastian Larsson whipped in a devilish free-kick from the left which found Steven Fletcher at the near post, who got the better of several Spurs defenders and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to flick the ball into the path of the unmarked O’Shea.
The former Manchester United man rolled the ball into the empty net to give his side a somewhat undeserved lead.
That was the last chance of the half, but just three minutes into the second Tottenham grabbed a well-deserved equaliser.
Kyle Walker took an in-swinging corner from the left which would have been met by the head of Gareth Bale, but before it reached the Welshman it deflected into the net off Cuellar after he collided with team-mate Craig Gardner.
And just two minutes later the comeback was complete, as Lennon scored an outstanding goal to put the visitors in front.
The England winger picked up the ball just outside the penalty area and nudged it into space before speeding around a static O’Shea to expertly finish past a helpless Simon Mignolet.
It was the outstanding moment of quality in the game, and gave Spurs the lead their play up until that point merited.
And 10 minutes later Tottenham had a great chance to put the game beyond doubt as Gareth Bale picked up the ball inside his own half and drove forward down the left before squaring for an unmarked Defoe.
The pacey forward was denied by a stunning save by Mignolet and Defoe will know he should have done better.
Sunderland were struggling to get themselves back into the game, and Mignolet was forced once again to keep his side in with a sniff when he denied Adebayor with 10 minutes left.
The final minutes failed to produce any outstanding chances, and Spurs held on to record their second consecutive away win.