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REPORT: SPURS 3-2 SUNDERLAND

Posted on 5 December 2005  - 12:00

Michael Carrick's first Premiership goal for the Club sealed the points in what was a thrilling encounter with Sunderland at the Lane on Saturday.

Michael Carrick's first Premiership goal for the Club sealed the points in what was a thrilling encounter with Sunderland at the Lane on Saturday.

We say first Premiership goal because it would not be entirely accurate to report it as his first goal in Spurs colours - he did score on his reserve team debut not long after joining in August 2004.

His goal was the decisive one in a game where fortunes fluctuated for both teams, with Sunderland taking the lead, us going 2-1 up and the visitors almost instantly replying. Carrick's goal came on 77 minutes and will no doubt provide something of a personal relief for the elegant middleman.

Martin Jol was able to field an unchanged line-up from last weekend's win over Wigan, with Robbie Keane retaining his starting place in attack.

On a day where it felt like early evening in early afternoon the game got underway in front of another full house at the Lane with Sunderland kicking off and promptly launching the ball into touch down the left flank.

There were a couple of half-chances inside the first eight minutes before Teemu Tainio - worked in by a combination of Paul Stalteri and Jermaine Jenas - really made Ben Alnwick in the Sunderland goal work for the first time with a finger-stinging drive from just inside the area. There followed an almighty goalmouth scramble as the intensity of attack pushed up a couple of levels but, despite a few snapshots, Alnwick was a relieved onlooker this time around.

The huge cry of 'shoooot' went up on 14 minutes when Carrick picked up possession 30 yards out. He obliged with an effort that was deflected wide but, if events hadn't panned out the way they did, he might just have been informed that the last time the shoot shouts were so loud was in honour of Stefan Freund...

Dean Whitehead needed no encouragement to shoot on 15 minutes when Sunderland were awarded a free-kick a few yards outside the area following a Michael Dawson foul on Chris Brown. The ball ended up in the top right hand corner of the net and Whitehead charged to the other end of the pitch to celebrate with a somewhat stunned travelling support from the North East.

This was not in the script.

As you would expect, the boys continued to pretty much boss play as a third of the game passed and there was a free-kick chance for us when Gary Breen tangled with Keane and was carded for his trouble. Jenas' set piece landed in the grateful arms of Alnwick. Sunderland were then forced into an early change with Chris Brown being unable to continue and Andy Gray taking his place after 33 minutes.

Just three minutes later we were on level terms after a productive exchange of passes between Keane and Stalteri that led to the striker firing across the six yard box from the right - beyond the goalkeeper but not beyond the outstretched leg of Mido, whose connection saw the ball rifle into the top of the net.

Game on again.

Robbie Keane proceeded to go close with a chip and curler respectively but three minutes stoppage time and the half-time whistle came before further significant action could unfold

And it didn't take too long. A long punt forward five minutes into the half was flicked on by Mido leading to a three-way tangle involving keeper Alnwick, defender Danny Collins and Robbie Keane, with the ball emerging from the melee and rolling into the net. Keane was awarded the goal but closer inspection suggested the last touch could well have come off Collins.

Little did we care because a deficit had been turned into a lead.

However, it did not last long as Sunderland substitute Anthony Le Tallec made an almost immediate impact. A long ball into the area was well cushioned by Andy Gray who managed to direct the ball into the path of the advancing Le Tallec who sidefooted past Paul Robinson and into the bottom left hand corner on the hour. It was the second goal the on-loan Liverpool star has scored at the Lane in a matter of weeks, with the young attacking midfielder having scored for France under-21s against their English counterparts.

The lead was so nearly restored when a Stalteri cross was powerfully nodded goalwards by Tainio, only for the ball to come out off the inside of the post. Martin then introduced Aaron Lennon for Jenas in a bid to inject a little more attacking spark down the right flank.

The game took another twist on 70 minutes when a Lennon dart led to Keane picking up the ball inside the area and his flick forward striking the hand of Breen. Keane himself stepped up to take the penalty kick awarded by referee Mr Walton, but Alnwick guess correctly, dived to his right and saved.

It was Jermain Defoe time and he took to the field on 73 minutes for Keane - a change already decided on before the penalty - with a winner very much on the radar.

It transpired that Carrick will not be saddled with any Stefan Freund baggage because on 77 minutes he took change high up on the right and surged into the area before dispatching a sidefooted curler past keeper and defenders and into the net. His joy was clearly evident and Martin's call for more goals from midfield is now certainly being answered.

Attendance: 36,244