SUNDERLAND suffered a third defeat in four games after Spurs mounted a Stadium of Light comeback to leave the Black Cats rooted to the Premier League’s basement.
As in Wednesday’s defeat to Chelsea, Gus Poyet’s side went ahead against the Champions League hopefuls after Adam Johnson pounced on Hugo Lloris’ error for his first Premier League goal of the season.
But Spurs levelled just before the interval when Paulinho pounced on Phil Bardsley’s ball-watching from a free-kick.
The visitors then went ahead early in the second half when John O’Shea put the ball into his own net - the fifth own goal Sunderland have conceded this season.
Spurs then spurned several chances to put the game to bed - with Jermain Defoe twice hitting the post - but Sunderland should have been awarded a penalty after referee Lee Mason missed a blatant handball by Sandro.
Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore were paired together up front for the first time since last month’s defeat at Hull City, as Poyet reverted to an orthodox 4-4-2.
Fletcher’s recall was one of four changes from the side which lost against Chelsea in midweek, with Fabio Borini, Emanuele Giaccherini, Craig Gardner and Andrea Dossena all relegated to the bench.
Ondrej Celustka took Dossena’s place in defence, while Jack Colback and Seb Larsson were introduced in midfield.
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas also made four changes, with Kyle Naughton, Lewis Holtby, Nacer Chadli and Moussa Dembele coming in for Jan Vertonghen, Vlad Chiriches, Sandro and Erik Lamela.
After a dull opening, Paulinho had the first effort on goal in the 13th minute when he let fly with an angled drive from 25 yards which dipped just over the crossbar.
Four minutes later, Steven Fletcher should have done much better with Sunderland’s first opportunity of the game.
Phil Bardsley launched a pinpoint ball over the top for Fletcher, who got in behind the Spurs defence, but scuffed his half-volley wide of the far post from the edge of the area.
Lewis Holtby then let fly from 20 yards at the other end with a right-footed shot which was heading just wide, but was turned behind anyway by Vito Mannone.
In the 19th minute, the Black Cats again failed to make the most of an opportunity after Jozy Altidore played a first-time lay-off into the path of Jack Colback, to the left of goal, just inside the area.
Colback brought the ball under control, but lashed his shot high and wide of the near post.
Sunderland had a big let-off in the 33rd minute when Holtby’s corner from the right found the head of Nacer Chadli, six yards out, but the Belgian sent his effort straight at Mannone.
Four minutes later, the Black Cats broke the deadlock after a brilliant move of one and two-touch passing out from the back.
The ball eventually reached Altidore, midway inside the Spurs half, who spread the ball to Ondrej Celustka down the right.
Celustka’s cross was only parried by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris and Johnson pounced on the loose ball before powering it in the far corner.
A minute before the interval, Spurs drew level when Kyle Walker’s free-kick from the right was headed back towards the six-yard box by Chadli.
Bardsley was caught waiting for the ball to drop by Paulinho who got in ahead of the full-back and stabbed it into the net.
Sunderland responded with Celustka unleashing a right-footed drive from 25 yards which was pushed away double-handed by Lloris.
In first half stoppage time, Chadli then headed just over the bar from Holtby’s left wing corner.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 1 Spurs 1
Four minutes into the second half, Spurs went ahead after another desperately soft goal conceded by Sunderland.
Moussa Dembele beat Colback too easily down the right-hand side of the area and scuffed a low cross across the face which deflected off John O’Shea and beat Mannone at his near post.
The woodwork spared Sunderland in the 57th minute as Aaron Lennon got the ball down the right-hand side of the six-yard box and dinked a cross back which Jermain Defoe headed against the near post.
Sunderland should have been awarded a spot-kick in the 74th minute when Larsson’s corner from the left was blatantly cleared by the outstretched arm of substitute Sandro, but referee Lee Mason waved play on.
Defoe hit the woodwork for a second time in the 79th minute when his back-heel flick to substitute Andros Townsend’s left wing cross crashed against the near post.
Substitute Fabio Borini had a great chance to equalise in the 82nd minute when he pounced on a goalmouth scramble 10 yards out, but sent his right-footed shot straight at Lloris.
Moments later, Paulinho should have sealed the result, but sent his header wide from eight yards after meeting Townsend’s cross from the left.
Mannone tipped over Townsend’s shot from the edge of the area in stoppage time, as it looked to be dipping under the crossbar.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 1 Spurs 2
SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Celustka (Giaccherini 77), O’Shea, Brown, Bardsley, Larsson, Colback (Cattermole 67), Ki, Johnson (Borini 67), Fletcher, Altidore. Subs not used: Pickford, Dossena, Gardner, Diakite. Booked: Celustka (38), Altidore (87)
SPURS: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Capoue, Naughton, Lennon, Paulinho, Holtby, Chadli (Sigurdsson 84), Dembele (Sandro 73), Defoe. Subs not used: Friedel, Soldado, Lamela, Fryers
* Don’t miss the Football Echo for the biggest and best coverage of SAFC. It’s out tomorrow morning.