Christian Eriksen once again popped up with a late winner as we overcame a stubborn Sunderland side with a 2-1 win at the Lane on Saturday afternoon.
The Danish playmaker hit an 88th minute goal to finally breach a Black Cats defence which had stood firm in the face of intense pressure during the second half, with goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon denying us on numerous occasions.
But he was left helpless two minutes from time as Eriksen fired home off the post to secure the points, fully deserved after a fine performance in which we dominated from start to finish. Jan Vertonghen’s deflected shot had given us an early lead which was cancelled out by Seb Larsson’s free-kick just after the half hour and it looked like our endeavours were to go unrewarded before our great Dane delivered.
The Head Coach made two changes to the side which lost to Crystal Palace last weekend, Eric Dier and Roberto Soldado replacing Federico Fazio and Andros Townsend, while there was a familiar face in the Sunderland line-up as Jermain Defoe started having joined them yesterday.
Just three minutes were on the clock when we grabbed an early lead. Eriksen took a free-kick wide to Kyle Walker, who played it back to the Dane and he clipped in a cross which was headed out as far as Vertonghen. The centre-half worked a yard of space with a neat piece of skill and hit a 15-yard shot which deflected off John O’Shea, wrong-footed Pantilimon and ended up in the back of the net.
Almost immediately at the other end, Defoe was involved for the first time on his return to the Lane, collecting Steven Fletcher’s clever back-heel, turning Vertonghen and going down, but referee Chris Foy waved away claims for a penalty.
There was an nice open feel about the game with plenty of chances created and we went close again on 18 minutes when Danny Rose led the breakaway down the left, his early cross flicked off O’Shea and fell nicely for Eriksen running onto the ball on the edge of the area but Pantilimon was down well to save his effort.
The Romanian goalie was keeping his side in the game, denying Soldado as he collected Vertonghen’s ball over the top but he couldn’t get round the keeper, before Pantilimon then denied Eriksen with a super save from his 25-yard rocket which was heading for the top corner.
Sunderland were always a threat though and Fletcher should have levelled on 29 minutes, but didn’t make a clean connection to Billy Jones’ cross and the ball bobbled out for a goal kick. Just two minutes later though, they did equalise, Larssson curling in a fine right-foot free-kick from 28 yards out after Vertonghen was penalised for bringing down Defoe.
In the closing minutes of the half, we were almost back in front. Excellent defending by Rose prevented a Sunderland counter-attack, he started an offensive drive which ended with Kane firing goalwards but straight into Pantilimon’s midrift. And when Walker intercepted Defoe’s pass on halfway we were on the attack again, Kane once again getting his shot away but this time it was the post that denied him and Rose saw his follow-up saved by the Sunderland keeper as we went in all square at the interval.
There were no changes for either side for the second period and we were quickly on the front foot again, Kane and Eriksen combining well on the right of the area, the Dane’s low cross just evading Soldado in front of goal.
Eriksen was pulling most of the strings as we looked to penetrate the Sunderland defence and he went close on 56 minutes with a volley from the edge of the area and Chadli saw an effort blocked, while Defoe was always a danger on the counter and Dier made a fine block from him on one such foray forwards for the Black Cats.
Both teams made offensive substitutions in search of a winning goal, with Emmanuel Adebayor replacing Soldado for us, Fletcher making way for Connor Wickham for the visitors and the chances continued to flow, mostly in our favour, Chadli the next to be denied by Pantilimon who got down well to prevent the Belgian’s effort creeping inside the post.
It was pretty much one way traffic as we were well on top in terms of possession, Adebayor, substitute Townsend and Rose all having shots at goal, but Sunderland had a golden opportunity to snatch the lead with a breakaway on 82 minutes. Johnson collected the ball 25 yards out and hit a vicious drive which Lloris parried away, the rebound fell straight to Danny Graham, just off the bench to replace Defoe, but he fired straight at our French keeper.
But with just two minutes remaining we finally regained the lead. Dier fed Townsend with a nice pass out of defence and he steamed into the Sunderland half, reached the edge of the area and played a square ball across the pitch. Eriksen, bursting forwards to support the attack, strode perfectly onto the ball and struck it firmly past Pantilimon, hitting the post and crossing the line to send the Lane into raptures.
The game wasn’t over though and we needed one of those stunning Lloris saves to secure the points, Sunderland launching a last-gasp attack which saw Graham through on goal, but Lloris’ superb one-handed stop denied him.
There was still time for more incredible late drama as Sunderland won a corner and Pantilimon came up for the set-piece. We cleared the danger though and streaked forwards, substitute Paulinho leading the charge before finding Vertonghen. With the keeper nowhere, the Belgian stroked the ball into an empty net from 45 yards out... only for the assistant to flag for offside.
It mattered not though as the final whistle blew moments later and that man Eriksen had done it again!
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen, Dier, Rose, Stambouli, Dembele (Townsend 75), Chadli (Paulinho 87), Kane, Eriksen, Soldado (Adebayor 61). Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Davies, Naughton, Capoue.
Sunderland (3-5-2): Pantilimon, Brown, O'Shea, Vergini , Jones, Larsson, Rodwell, Johnson, van Aanholt, Fletcher (Wickham 64), Defoe (Graham 75). Substitutes (not used): Mannone, Gomez, Coates, Giaccherini, Buckley.
Goals: Spurs Vertonghen 3, Eriksen 88; Sunderland – Larsson 31.
Yellows: Spurs – Vertonghen; Sunderland - Rodwell.
Referee: Chris Foy.