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Gomes heroics tees up massive win

Goals from Robbie Keane and Tom Huddlestone settled a fiercely fought encounter with Sunderland at the Lane, but the goals do not tell the full story.

Goals from Robbie Keane and Tom Huddlestone settled a fiercely fought encounter with Sunderland at the Lane, but the goals do not tell the full story.

Sunderland came to attack and it took several fine stops along with a penalty save from Heurelho Gomes to thwart the Wearsiders, who will probably feel a little hard done by leaving without even a goal to their name.

The team were slow out the blocks and it was Sunderland dictating the early momentum, with a Darren Bent cross providing an early alert. The former Spur fizzed in low from the right and only the accuracy of Kieran Richardson's finishing prevented the visitors taking a lead which would not have been against the run of play.

Maybe that could be said of the breakthrough on 11 minutes. Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross was won well in the air by Peter Crouch, who helped it on into the danger area, where Keane was ready to pounce. Craig Gordon saved well from his initial effort, but the captain was quick to react and forced home the rebound.

There was a growing authority in the play of the team following the goal and a sprint in possession by Jermaine Jenas was only stopped in its tracks at the final moment.

The game lost its way a bit as the clock reached the half hour point with neither side making significant headway. One lively individual was Steed Malbranque, who was a fairly persistant thorn down the Sunderland right.

Gomes did brilliantly to foil a Fraizer Campbell cross from the other side just before Bent got there before, on the counter, Vedran Corluka supplied Jermain Defoe, who appealled for a foul but the award was given the other way.

Gomes, meanwhile, was hurt denying the previous attack and was only able to carry on after a lengthy period of treatment. Andy Reid then struck the bar with a looping left-foot volley.

Corluka sold a back pass short on 39 minutes and Richardson was through, with only another brave block by Gomes preventing a leveller. Defoe shot just wide on the turn following a free-kick after a hefty lunge on Corluka.

With just six minutes gone in the second half and Sunderland still on the offensive, Bent sped through and was checked by Gomes. Referee Mr Friend booked the keeper and pointed to the spot.

Bent stepped up and Gomes saved his penalty low to his left. The keeper then pulled off a superb stop to save and hold a deflected Malbranque effort.

Defoe then darted in on goal and was denied by Gordon before Huddlestone drilled the rebound narrowly wide.

A double change beckoned, with Michael Dawson replacing Ledley King, while Niko Kranjcar was soon to be in action, but not before Gomes was forced into another fine save from Malbranque. Keane made way for the Croatian and the substitute made an immediate impact with some dazzling footwork.

Sunderland were forced into a change of goalkeeper and it wasn't long, 68 minutes, before Gordon's replacement Marton Fulop was picking the ball up out of his net. Kranjcar brilliantly set Defoe scampering away, the striker rolled into the path of Huddlestone and the midfielder set himself and arrowed the ball bang into the top corner.

Kranjcar then shot just wide and later crashed in a dipping effort that flew just over the bar. Gomes then reacted superbly to turn away a Michael Turner header from a Campbell cross.

We now head into the international break with a welcome three points in the bank with Wigan Athletic next in two weeks time.