Premier League Match Report – Sunderland 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2
12:45 Kick Off 29/12/12
Tottenham came back from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 at the Stadium of Light after an inspired Aaron Lennon performance proved pivotal for the visitors.
John O’Shea broke the deadlock late in the first-half, poking past Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris, after the Frenchman failed to deal with Sebastian Larsson’s free-kick.
Three minutes into the second half Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar headed an in swinging Kyle Walker corner past keeper Simon Mignolet and into his own net to bring the score level.
The equalizer sucker punched the home side and Spurs winger Aaron Lennon raced through their defence to dispatch a cool finish past the out-rushing Mignolet on 50 minutes played.
The game started off as quite a scrappy affair with Sunderland displaying a robust defensive performance.
Martin O’Neil’s side had obviously done their homework and were working hard to nullify the talents of Tottenham’s attacking quartet of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor.
However for all the home’s side defensive organisation it still felt like a matter of when not if the visitors would score.
Going into this game, five of Tottenham’s ten league victories had come on the road this season and with winger Bale in electric form and Defoe at his goal scoring best, it was always going to be a tough game for the Black Cats.
In the pre-match build up pundits were predicting another Bale-driven performance but it was Lennon that caused the home side the most problems.
The pacey England international was an attacking threat and proved a useful creative outlet throughout, racing past Sunderland left-back Matthew Kilgallon with ease and providing Adebayor with the chance of the game, only for the Togolese striker to hit the bar from 7 yards.
Mignolet produced a string of excellent saves to stop Spurs increasing their lead, the best of which came at point blank range to deny Defoe his eleventh league goal of the season.
O’Neill tried to give his team an attacking impetus as time ran, bringing on strikers Frazier Campbell and Connor Wickham for Kilgallon and Larsson, but both failed to make a real impact.
Spurs’ deserved win takes them to third place in the Premier League and leaves Sunderland five points away from the relegation zone in 14th place.
The only worry for Andre Villas Boas is the suspension of Bale, who will now miss their next game, after referee Martin Atkinson booked him for diving in the Sunderland area.