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Gomes heroics not enough

Darren Bent scored two goals, one a penalty, Heurelho Gomes saved two further Darren Bent penalties, Peter Crouch got one back before the home side stopped a comeback in its tracks with a spectacular third in a crazy game in the North East.

Darren Bent scored two goals, one a penalty, Heurelho Gomes saved two further Darren Bent penalties, Peter Crouch got one back before the home side stopped a comeback in its tracks with a spectacular third in a crazy game in the North East.

We return home empty handed after being put on the back foot almost straight from kick-off before all the penalty drama.

Roman Pavlyuchenko was restored to the starting XI after a hamstring injury restricted his playing time over the last two weeks, while there were also starts for Younes Kaboul and Wilson Palacios. Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone were on the lengthy missing list.

Jermain Defoe was lying in wait on the bench after his own hamstring problems.

Just around 30 seconds were on the clock when the Stadium of Light erupted to a Bent goal. A Kieran Richarson corner was met by the head of Fraizer Campbell. Gomes could only parry and Bent was on hand to guide the ball home.

The goal gave the home side an early energy injection, not to mention the crowd, but a storm was weathered and the game settled into something of a scrappy affair, lacking in composure.

Jordan Henderson went down in the area after cutting across the front of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, but his fall was perhaps a little too dramatic and he was quickly on his feet once Mr Mason kept his hands behind his back.

David Bentley forced Craig Gordon into his first save of the afternoon on 25 minutes from a teasing Gareth Bale cross as the atmosphere in the stadium cranked up a notch or two as the home fans responded to the travelling thousands.

But on 27 minutes there was a doubling of the advantage. Steed Malbranque embarked on a mazy run which resulted in Gomes being forced to save at full stretch, but the loose ball bounced up and hit Kyle Walker on the arm and the referee pointed to the spot. Bent drilled his penalty and, unlike at the Lane earlier in the season, this time it rattled the net.

Campbell was just off target with a flicked header and then the combative Lee Cattermole was booked for a lunge on his former Wigan teammate Palacios.

The deficit could and maybe should have been reduced twice in the space of a few seconds, first from a Bentley cross where Gordon's arm prevented a Gudjohnsen slide, befoe a Bale cross from the other side was slotted wide by the striker.

Bent could have had a first half hat-trick when on 40 minutes Luka Modric bought down Campbell inside the area, the referee again pointing to the spot. This time Gomes leapt across and pulled off a brilliant save to his left.

The first changes at the beginning of the second half saw the introduction of Niko Kranjcar and Jermain Defoe in place of Assou-Ekotto and Bentley. Bale switched to left back behind Modric, with Kranjcar operating down the right. Gudjohnsen moved to central midfield alongside Palacios.

Campbell surged through after shaking off Younes Kaboul and claimed a penalty under challenge from Sebastien Bassong, but it was a hopeful appeal waved away by the referee.

Defoe then broke through only to be denied by the feet of Gordon, with Gudjohnsen overplaying the rebound before Gordon made a spectacular save in tipping away a Bale header from a Kranjcar corner.

Defoe could have got one back when, from a Gomes kick, Pavlyuchenko flicked on and sent the leading goalscorer scurrying away, but he shot just past Gordon's right hand post.

Kranjcar and Modric combined just before the hour in a move that resulted in Modric slamming the ball goalwards on the spin, but Gordon was able to foil.

Incredibly, Mr Mason awarded a third penalty to Sunderland on the hour following a Palacios challenge on David Meyler. Remarkably, Gomes saved again from Bent to his right on the second grab after pushing onto the inside of the post.

Anton Ferdinand thought he had made it three moments later and was off celebrating for a good 20 seconds before noting that Mr Mason was not making his way back to the halfway line.

Gordon had to be sharp to fall on a low Bale cross that looked destined to cause mayhem as the boys attempted to mount a response.

They did just that in the 72nd minute when Kranjcar looped in a cross that was met by the head of the just introduced Peter Crouch and the deficit was halved - the flight of his header defeating Gordon to his right.

Sunderland perhaps should have sealed it when Campbell sped clear and squared, only for sub Kenwyne Jones to take an air shot, but the ball fell kindly for fellow sub Bolo Zenden, whose shot was cleared off the line by Kaboul.

They did manage a third though in spectacular fashion when a Henderson cross was volleyed into the top corner by Zenden - ending any possible comeback.

Spurs: Gomes; Walker, Bassong, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto (Defoe, 46); Bentley (Kranjcar, 46), Palacios, Modric, Bale; Gudjohnsen, Pavlyuchenko (Crouch, 71). Unused subs: Alnwick, Dervite, Livermore, Rose.