Aaron Lennon’s superb goal secured maximum points as we came from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Trailing 1-0 at the break, somewhat hardhly, we scored two goals in four minutes at the start of the second half to turn the game around.
If there was a stroke of luck about the equaliser – an own goal by Carlos Cuellar - Lennon’s goal was nothing less than magnificent.
Picking the ball up 25 yards from goal, the winger rolled the ball past John O’Shea and collected it the other side of the defender before slotting past Simon Mignolet.
It was a goal worthy of winning any game and stretched our run to one defeat in eight in the Premier League, including two wins and a draw over the festive period.
Andre Villas-Boas made two changes from the 4-0 win at Villa Park on Boxing Day with Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker back in for Jan Vertonghen and William Gallas.
We didn’t create the same amount of chances as we did at Villa, but the first half was no less dominant – but this time we went in behind at half-time.
Gareth Bale left Craig Gardner spinning in the fourth minute before squaring for Emmanuel Adebayor, whose shot was taken by Mignolet. At the other end, Gardner tried his luck from a free-kick that was deflected into the arms of Hugo Lloris.
We took control of the next 35 minutes. Sandro’s low strike from the edge of the box had the pace taken off by Cuellar and midway through the half, Lennon sent Adebayor through on goal but Mignolet was quickly out to block.
Bale looped a header wide and then the chance of the half as Jermain Defoe’s curler was completely missed in front of goal by Cuellar, Adebayor was first to react but struck the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.
Sunderland responded with an Adam Johnson free-kick that Cuellar flicked onto the roof of the net and then the goal. Seb Larsson whipped in a free-kick from the left, the ball landed with Steven Fletcher, Lloris made a fine block but the ball fell to O’Shea, who stroked into the empty net. That was 1-0 at the break.
It took just four minutes to turn it around in the second half.
There was a touch of fortune about the equaliser on 48 minutes. It all started with Lennon’s break and being upended by Cuellar, who was booked. The free-kick went out for a corner, Kyle Walker delivered and Cuellar glanced the ball backwards over Mignolet into his own net.
Lennon fired us into the lead on 52 minutes. Initially, he looked for a one-two with Defoe, his attempted return pass came back off Kilgallon and he needed no second invitation to take off towards goal. He slipped the ball past O’Shea, gathered around the other side and then planted the chance past Mignolet.
Lloris made a sharp save down to his left from Johnson before Defoe was denied point-blank by an incredible save from Mignolet after a scorching 70-yard run by Bale.
Caulker headed straight at Mignolet and then a moment of controversy as Bale was booked for diving, even though replays showed that he'd been caught by Gardner. A fifth yellow card means he misses our New Year's Day clash against Reading.
Still we drove forward looking for a third goal and a lovely backheel by substitute Clint Dempsey released Adebayor through on goal, but Mignolet was equal to it again, this time saving with his outstretched left foot.
Lennon was replaced by Scott Parker with seven minutes left, Bale shot straight at Mignolet before being replaced by Gylfi Sigurdsson and with five added minutes, Sunderland's only real threat came from a dangerous cross from Johnson, cleared well by Naughton.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea (Bramble, 68), Kilgallon (Campbell, 62); Johnson, Colback, Larsson (Wickham, 80), McClean; Fletcher, Sessignon. Unused subs: Westwood, McFadden, Vaughan, Ji Dong-won.
Spurs (4-4-2): Lloris; Walker, Caulker, Dawson, Naughton; Lennon (Parker, 83), Dembele, Sandro, Bale (Sigurdsson, 90); Adebayor, Defoe (Dempsey, 76). Unused subs: Friedel, Vertonghen, Huddlestone, Livermore.
Goals: Sunderland – O’Shea (40). Spurs – Cuellar own goal (48), Lennon (52).
Yellow cards: Sunderland – Cuellar. Spurs – Dawson, Dembele, Bale.
Referee: Mr M Atkinson.