Sunderland’s dogged display against Spurs pleasing for Poyet

Sunderland's Connor Wickham is crowded off the ball by Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose (left) and Vlad Chiriches (right).Sunderland's Connor Wickham is crowded off the ball by Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose (left) and Vlad Chiriches (right).
Sunderland's Connor Wickham is crowded off the ball by Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose (left) and Vlad Chiriches (right).
SUNDERLAND’S dogged resolution against Tottenham provided a welcome sight for Gus Poyet.

There was nothing attractive about what was at times one-way traffic towards the Sunderland penalty area, as a hugely impressive Spurs side effortlessly found space in midfield.

But Poyet saw the leaders in Sunderland’s ranks rise to the challenge and ensure there was no tame surrender, despite the superiority of the visitors.

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For the Sunderland head coach, that is just as crucial to a successful side as any tactical cunning or preparations on the training ground.

“When you’re setting up a style of play, you cannot only rely on playing well because you know that as soon as you play bad, you’re going to lose the game,” said Poyet.

“But I think the mentality is great.

“They never gave up, they accept sometimes that we need to fight a bit harder.

“You work on things and try to convince your team of things.

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“You can do a lot. But until it happens, you’re not going to achieve that.

“When you have a bad day at the office and the opposition is better than you, they need to work it out and somehow get something from the game.

“Those kind of situations happened a lot on Saturday. There were moments when it was very hard for us.”

In a frenetic start to the game, Spurs might have been ahead with less than a minute gone when left-back Danny Rose, who had a successful loan spell on Wearside earlier in his career, collected Etienne Capoue’s pass and forced a solid save from Vito Mannone from a tight angle.

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However, the respite was temporary and the visitors went in front seconds later when, after Mannone was unable to hold Emmanuel Adebayor’s shot from the edge of the box, Chadli pounced on the rebound.

But Sunderland’s response was instant and they restored parity in fine style after Sebastian Larsson picked out Johnson on the left.

The winger cut inside and squirmed his way between Eric Dier and Capoue before curling a low shot past keeper Hugo Lloris and in off Younes Kaboul on the line.

Tottenham were not to be tamed, however, and they set about restoring their advantage immediately with Eriksen tormenting the Black Cats as he exploited the space behind lone striker Adebayor.

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Lee Cattermole, Jack Rodwell and Larsson were simply unable to get anywhere near the Dane as he probed to find holes in the home rearguard.

It was he who lifted the ball expertly into the path of Adebayor, whose sixth-minute volley was blocked bravely by Mannone, who also had to keep out a long-range effort from Chadli.

As the half wore on, Spurs dominated possession with Connor Wickham sporadically causing problems on Sunderland’s rare forays forward, although clear-cut chances were few and far between.

But Mannone needed the help of an upright to spare him further damage seven minutes before the break when Mousa Dembele’s 25-yard piledriver left him rooted to the spot.

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The second half started in much the same way as the first had with Spurs in the ascendancy, and they made it count within three minutes of the restart.

Full-back Patrick van Aanholt’s attempted clearance from Chadli’s left-wing cross hit team-mate Wes Brown and Eriksen was on hand to stab the loose ball home from point-blank range.

Sunderland fought back in concerted style once again and Rodwell saw a 55th-minute shot on the turn blocked by Kaboul, but Cattermole had to make a last-ditch challenge on Dier inside the box three minutes later when the slightest of miscalculations would have resulted in a penalty.

Wickham was working hard to give the home side an out-ball and he did well to power his way past Vlad Chiriches and Rose on the right, only for Capoue to block his shot at source.

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Poyet turned to Emanuele Giaccherini and Will Buckley as the game entered its final 25 minutes, but it was Johnson who whistled a 25-yard effort just past Lloris’ left post three minutes later.

Pochettino responded by sending on debutant Benjamin Stambouli for Chadli with 20 minutes remaining, but it was Erik Lamela who came closest to extending his side’s lead with a 75th-minute shot which came back off the crossbar.

But the Black Cats equalised for a second time when Jordi Gomez’s free-kick hit fellow substitute Kane at the far post and looped into the net to hand the home side a point, and they could have won it at the death when Buckley scooped over from Van Aanholt’s pull-back.