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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
7 April 2012
• Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Referee: C. Foy
• Attendance: 39335
90' + 6'
Modric's kick ultimately yields nothing, and with that the referee blows for full time. It's finished 0-0 here at the Stadium of Light, with Spurs unable to break through a resilient Sunderland rearguard. The hosts will be happy with a point as they created very little going forward, while Spurs will be disappointed not to make their possession tell even though the point lifts them temporarily above Arsenal. Thanks for joining me for this afternoon's early kick-off!
90' + 4'
We're deep into stoppage time here and Spurs have a free-kick in Sunderland's half. Last chance for the visitors to find a way through here.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card David Vaughan
90' + 1'
What a challenge from Gardner! Defoe blocks Colback's pass and Bale is free to drive towards the area despite the young defender's best efforts to trip his heels. Gardner was the last man and he played the ball cleanly with a crunching tackle on the edge of the area, leaving Bale a little bruised. That was a big moment in the match.
Yellow Card Benoit Assou-Ekotto
Sessegnon slips the ball to Larsson 30 yards from goal. The Swede skips beyond Kaboul and goes to ground, but the referee awards the free-kick the other way and Larsson earns a booking for his troubles. Replays show he did go to ground a little easily. Assou-Ekotto then joins him in Chris Foy's book for hauling down Sessegnon.
Yellow Card Sebastian Larsson
Sunderland win a dangerous free-kick as McLean is brought down by Walker following Bendtner's flick-on. Larsson whips it in but Kaboul is on hand to head clear at the far post. The resulting corner is met by Bendtner at the near post but the ball goes behind for a goal kick.
Rafael van der Vaart
Last throw of the dice from Redknapp as Defoe and Saha enter the fray, while Richardson replaces Bardsley for Sunderland. Spurs continue to look a threat down the right with Lennon but the hosts' defense is continuing to frustrate the visitors.
Brad Friedel is finally called into action as Larsson heads from the edge of the area following Sessegnon's prodded cross. It's an easy catch for the American, but at least it's something for him to do. Spurs then win a free-kick in a promising position following Gardner's trip on Modric, but the hosts clear their lines after Kaboul kept Van Der Vaart's delivery alive.
McClean gets the ball from Gardner down the left and his cross is blocked behind by Walker for a corner. David Vaughan has just come on for Lee Cattermole, who has been unable to shake off a knock sustained a few minutes earlier - that could be key to Spurs' chances of finding a way through the Sunderland rearguard, as Cattermole has been excellent today.
Great chance for Van Der Vaart! Lennon receives the ball down the right flank from Walker. The England winger slips the ball through to the Dutchman, who opens his body out and tries to place the ball beyond Mignolet at the far post with his left foot. Turner blocks the shot on the line, with Spurs appealing in vain for a handball. Big chance for the visitors!
Possession stats show that Spurs have enjoyed 69% of the play, but are still struggling to find a break-through against the hosts' high defensive line. Walker tries a deep cross from the right this time but it's an easy claim for Mignolet at the far post.
It is indeed Sandro who comes off for Aaron Lennon. Spurs will reshuffle the pack here as they look to find a way past this resilient Sunderland defence, who will start to tire soon if the likes of Bendtner and Sessegnon can't keep hold of the ball for long at the other end.
Sandro is the first player to find himself in the referee's notebook after a wild lunge on Kilgallon. That came after the Brazilian was outmuscled as he looked to drive forward to the Sunderland box. With Lennon set to come on, I wonder if it might be Sandro who is sacrificed as Redknapp's side look for a cutting edge?
Yellow Card Sandro
Big chance at both ends! Modric plays the ball out wide to Assou-Ekotto. His floated ball into the box picks out the unmarked Bale, who heads over from 12 yards. At the other end, Larsson finds space down the right and crosses with pace to far post, but Walker is there to hook the ball behind. Better play from both sides.
Clever ball over the top from Van Der Vaart there but Adebayor is offside. Spurs had much more room in the opposition half there, after Sunderland pushed players forward only for McClean to lose possession.
Good chance for Spurs! Bale finally makes an effective run, skipping past three challenges to the right of the area before pulling the ball back across to Modric. He back-heels the ball towards Van Der Vaart, who blazes over with a right-foot shot under pressure.
Good play from the visitors as Assou-Ekotto finds Van Der Vaart in the box. He combines well with Modric, whose cut-back is poked away to the edge of the area where Sandro is brilliantly charged down by Turner. More incisive play from Spurs this time.
The sun has disappeared on Wearside, and there's still little sign of events hotting up here. Spurs are once again knocking the ball around nicely, with the hosts waiting to make a challenge or force a mistake. Bendtner almost managed the latter there against Kaboul, but the big defender recovered.
And we're underway here in the second half. Let's hope there's something more to talk about in 45 minutes' time...
45' + 1'
Half time at the Stadium of Light and it's 0-0 between Sunderland and Tottenham here. Spurs have had the better of possession but neither side have created anything clear-cut, with the hosts' tenacity allowing them to cope comfortably with Bale and Co. Something will need to change drastically here if either side is to break the deadlock in the next 45 minutes.
Crucial block there from Kilgallon! Some neat passing from Spurs just outside the box allowed Van Der Vaart to jink his way into the box, but the former Leeds man charged down his shot from twelve yards. You have to wonder if things might've been different had the Dutchman had the ball on his left foot there...
Larsson threatens again with a fine delivery from near the right corner flag, but Kaboul does well under pressure from Turner to turn the ball behind for a corner. Bendtner meets the resulting set-piece but his backwards header loops harmlessly over the bar.
Good pressure from Spurs as Modric nods a clearance back into the box, but the hosts clear their lines before Assou-Ekotto plays a peculiar 60-yard back-pass to Brad Friedel, allowing them to recover their shape. Harry Redknapp's side are struggling to break through the resilient Balck Cats defence here.
Much better pressure from the hosts as first McClean and then Bendtner threaten in the box, but Spurs clear their lines. There were a couple of penalty appeals in there but nothing concrete for the home side. Colback then blocks the run of Sandro and is lucky to escape a booking.
Lee Cattermole's had a bit of a talking-to from Chris Foy after a series of stong challenges on Sandro on the halfway line. The Brazilian then slid in on Sessegnon as the forward looked to break clear but the referee waved play on. That little spell has just raised the temperature here.
We've reached the half-hour point and neither side have much to show for it. Spurs have had the lion's share of the ball but haven't really tested Mignolet enough, while Sunderland seem content to sit back and try to his the visitors on the break.
Bale almost seems to be playing a free role this afternoon, as he pops up on the right this time to link up with Walker. The ball finds its way to Parker who rifles a shot from 30 yards which is deflected behind for a corner, which Mignolet punches clear.
Better from the hosts as they enjoy a decent spell of possession for the first time in the half. The ball is worked wide to McClean and the youngster is tripped as he cuts inside. Larsson's kick is headed behind for a corner.
Sunderland press high up the pitch this time and Gardner plays in Bardsley down the right, but Sessegnon could do little with the cross. It's something of a subdued atmosphere on Wearside, with the travelling Spurs faithful making the only real noise.
Sunderland earn the first corner of the match and Friedel almost fumbles beneath his crossbar, but holds on to the ball in the end. That's the first foray into the Spurs half that the hosts have managed for some time - the visitors are keeping the ball really well.
Penalty shout for Spurs! Van Der Vaart whips in a free-kick from the right flank, Adebayor heads the ball back across goal and it strikes the arm of Phil Bardsley, but the referee waves away the striker's protests. His arm was outstretched but there was only a short distance bewteen them. That one really could have gone either way.
First save of the match for Mignolet! Walker plays in Modric from the right, and the Croation twists and turns under pressure before getting a shot away from the edge of the box. A comfortable claim in the end for the Belgian, but Sunderland will need to do better to stop these efforts coming in.
Assou-Ekotto then tries a little too many turns outside his own penalty area and his clearance is blocked, but Spurs win a free-kick after Bardsley's lunge at Bale.
Assou-Ekotto comes close for Spurs! The defender chests down Parker's sideways pass and rifles a half-volley from 25 yards which has Mignolet scrambling across goal. That was narrowly wide from the full-back. Sunderland's first effort comes from Gardner, meanwhile, whose shot is a little more wayward.
Spurs are moving the ball around nicely here in the opening exchanges. The hosts seem happy to sit back and put the pressure on in their own half, much like they did so successfully in Manchester last week.
The hosts get us underway in the north-east sunshine!
A lot has been made of Nicklas Bendtner in the build-up to this afternoon's game, with the on-loan Gunners striker likely to be fired up for the visit of his old rivals, particularly given his recent good form. But we shouldn't forget another former Arsenal man who could have a big impact today - Seb Larsson bagged a brace against City last weekend, and is always dangerous over a dead ball.
Spurs will be anxious for three points this afternoon after Newcastle closed to within just two points of the top four yesterday. Sunderland will go into today's match full of confidence after last week's point at the Etihad, however, and could move above both Mersyside clubs with a win today.
And the visitors have named an unchanged line-up from last week's win over Swansea: Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Parker, Modric, Sandro; Van der Vaart, Adebayor, Bale. Substitutes: Cudicini, Nelsen, Kranjcar, Lennon, Livermore, Defoe, Saha.
The Sunderland team this afternoon is as follows: Mignolet; Bardsley, Kilgallon, Turner, Colback; Larsson, Cattermole (C), Gardner, McClean; Sessegnon; Bendtner. Substitutes: Bridge, Richardson, Vaughan, Dong-won, Meyler, Kyrgiakos, Westwood.
Hello and a very warm welcome to Goal.com's live play-by-play commentary of Sunderland versus Tottenham at a rather blustery Stadium of Light!
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