Christian Eriksen scored twice as Tottenham Hotspur revitalised their Champions League push by coming from behind to convincingly beat Sunderland 4-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.
With Tottenham winless in three games in 2016 and Sunderland chasing a third straight league win, it threatened to be a fiddly afternoon for Mauricio Pochettino’s side at White Hart Lane.
They fell behind to Patrick van Aanholt’s 40th-minute goal, but Eriksen equalised within two minutes before second-half goals from Mousa Dembele, Eriksen and Harry Kane, from the spot, secured victory.
Spurs provisionally opened up a four-point lead over fifth-place West Ham United in the fourth and final Champions League qualifying berth and closed to within four points of the summit.
Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland drop one place to 19th and remain a point from safety.
Allardyce awarded a league debut to goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and the 21-year-old was immediately in the thick of the action, plunging to his left to palm a 25-yard shot from Kane around the post.
Determined to atone for recent disappointments, Spurs set up camp inside the Sunderland half and Dele Alli should have put them ahead when he blazed over after Danny Rose’s shot bounced into his path off Kane.
Erik Lamela drilled a shot across goal and narrowly wide, while Kieran Trippier just failed to pick out Alli with a volleyed cross from the right.
Sunderland had not had a sniff at the other end, but five minutes before half-time they went ahead as Adam Johnson played a glorious pass inside Alli and Van Aanholt beat Hugo Lloris at his near post.
Calamity for Kirchhoff
Their lead was to last just 91 seconds.
A neat one-touch move involving Kane, Alli and Eriksen culminated in Kane seeing a shot blocked by Pickford, but Eriksen slammed the rebound goalwards and Lee Cattermole, covering on the line, could only knee the ball into the roof of the net.
Former Spurs striker Jermain Defoe squandered a chance to restore Sunderland’s lead when he rolled a tame free-kick straight at Lloris, while Pickford parried from Eriksen at the other end.
Defoe lashed a shot into the side-netting early in the second half, but after Alli had headed wide from Lamela’s cross and Kane had seen a shot turned behind by Pickford, Spurs went in front in the 59th minute.
From a deep corner, Rose was denied by Pickford, but Dembele picked up the loose ball, stepped inside two defenders and drove a low shot inside the right-hand upright with his left foot.
Jan Kirchhoff came on to make his Sunderland debut shortly before Dembele’s goal. The German centre-back quickly found himself centre of attention, but it was for all the wrong reasons.
The former Bayern Munich man made the laziest of attempts to block a hopeful left-foot shot from Danish playmaker Eriksen and the ball struck him on the thigh before looping over the soaring Pickford.
Nine minutes later, after Pickford had denied Kane again, Kirchhoff was penalised for a late challenge on Rose inside the box and Kane swept the penalty into the bottom-left corner for his 15th goal of the season.
– By AFP