Tottenham Hotspur consolidated fourth position in the Premier League table and moved to within four points of the leaders with a 4-1 victory over Sunderland at White Hart Lane this afternoon.
Spurs fell behind to Patrick van Aanholt’s 40th-minute goal, but equalised 90 seconds later through Christian Eriksen, who scored again in between Mousa Dembele and Harry Kane strikes.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side are now four points clear of fifth-place West Ham United. Sunderland remain in the drop zone after failing to build on successive wins over Aston Villa and Swansea City.
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Sam Allardyce handed a Premier League debut to 21-year-old Jordan Pickford in goal, and he made a confident start as he tipped a powerful Harry Kane shot around the post in the early minutes.
Spurs were largely restricted to speculative shots from range because Sunderland defended with two organised banks of four, and the hosts were not passing the ball quickly enough to create gaps.
Sunderland had Spurs goalscoring legend Jermain Defoe leading the line fresh off the back of five goals in two games, but his service was limited by Tottenham’s excellent all-Belgian defensive pair.
Tottenham were caught out down Sunderland’s left for the opening goal. Adam Johnson slipped a delightful pass inside Dele Alli, and Van Aanholt drilled past Hugo Lloris at the near post.
Allardyce would have been furious that his side could not hold their advantage until half time, although the visitors were slightly unfortunate to concede to Eriksen’s first league goal since October.
Pickford blocked bravely from Kane and the rebound fell to the Dane, whose shot was bundled over the line by Lee Cattermole as the Sunderland midfielder clumsily attempted a last-ditch clearance.
The Black Cats kept Spurs at bay for the opening stages of the second period, but an ill-fated switch to three at the back from Allardyce and the introduction of new signing Jan Kirchhoff changed the game.
Spurs took the lead for the first time 60 seconds later as Sunderland failed to clear a corner, and the fit-again Dembele cut inside onto his left foot to fire a shot inside the post just shy of the hour mark.
Tottenham, whose midweek defeat to Leicester City was a big dent to their title aspirations, had a two-goal cushion eight minutes later when Eriksen bagged his second thanks to more poor defending.
Again the playmaker got the benefit of a big deflection – via a pitiful block from Kirchhoff, who joined from Bayern Munich last week. The long-range shot looped over Pickford and into the top corner.
Kirchhoff’s Premier League bow would get worse as he conceded a late penalty for a wild hack on Danny Rose. Kane stepped up from 12 yards to bury the spot kick and wrap up a crucial win for Tottenham.
Spurs player ratings
GK: Hugo Lloris – 6/10
RB: Kieran Trippier – 6/10
CB: Toby Alderweireld – 7/10
CB: Jan Vertonghen – 7/10
LB: Danny Rose – 6/10
CM: Eric Dier – 7/10
CM: Mousa Dembele – 8/10 (Tom Carroll 80) – 6
AMR: Erik Lamela – 6/10 (Josh Onomah 73) – 6
AMC: Dele Alli – 7/10
AML: Christian Eriksen – 8/10
ST: Harry Kane – 7/10 (Son Heung-Min 87) – N/a
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