Despite spending much of the season consigned to twiddling his thumbs on the substitutes bench the Russian proved he hasn’t lost his sharpness in front of goal cooly slotting the ball past Kieron Westwood secure all three points for the home side. It was an afternoon of frustration for Spurs who were constantly thwarted by the Black Cats as they threatened to leave White Hart Lane with a well earned point. The effect Martin O’Neill has had on the Weasiders was there for all to see in North London as they looked to win for the second consecutive week after beating Blackburn at the death last Sunday to move away from the drop zone. However they missed the chance to put more distance between themselves and the bottom three as Harry Redknapp’s side snatched a deserved victory to keep themselves on the fringes of the the title race.
With Jermaine Defoe and Gareth Bale sidelined with injury the home side were shorn of two of their key attacking players that took the fizz out of their usual vibrance in the final third. Aaron Lennon also limped off midway through the first half leaving the creative duties to Rafael Van Der Vaart and Luka Modric who both showed flashes of their brilliance in the centre. The former should have opened the scoring but could only deflect Benoit Assou Ekotto’s cross wide before Sandro scuffed a shot wide after being played in by the Dutchman. Sunderland gradually grew in confidence and were unlucky not to take the lead with Kieron Richardson and Sebastian Larsson testing Brad Friedel from range.
David Vaughan was also denied by the 40-year-old keeper producing another top save to deny the Welsh midfielder as he single handedly kept Spurs in the game. It proved to be vital as the hosts found themselves back on top once again as they took the lead just after the hour mark with Pavlyuchenko doing brilliantly to fire across Westwood and into the corner after being found by Van Der Vaarts brilliant superb pass. That lead should have been doubled soon after only for Modric to lay down his claim for miss of the season blasting over an empty net from 12-yards after Emmanuel Adebayor’s shot was pushed into his path by Westwood. Sunderland faded in the latter stages with substitute Nicklas Bendtner having a late chance that he blazed well wide after a neat one-two with Stephane Sessegnon.