Harry Redknapp's men got back to winning ways thanks to a much-improved second half display, while Martin O'Neill's honeymoon period with the Black Cats appears over already.
The result sees Harry Redknapp's men return to winning ways after a disappointing week which included defeat away at Stoke and exit from the Europa League, and means the club has still only lost once at White Hart Lane this season.
For Sunderland and new boss Martin O'Neill, however, the honeymoon period appears to be already over, with defeat in north London leaving the team poised precariously just two points above the relegation zone.
With his side itching to get back to winning in the league, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp recalled captain Ledley King along with fellow first team stalwarts Emmanuel Adebayor, Rafael Van der Vaart, Luka Modric and Scott Parker. Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe, however, both missed out.
Spurred on by a raucous home support, it was Spurs who took control early on, stroking the ball around with assurance and slickness. Thanks to Sunderland's impressive collective pressing, however, Harry Redknapp’s men were unable to create any clear chances in the opening 45 minutes.
Sunderland started the second half in confident mood, with David Vaughan marauding forward to force Brad Friedel into another save from range.
Spurs, seeking to reassert their authority, rallied and pushed the visiting team back. Surging through the middle, Van der Vaart fired a right-footed shot from distance which, having caught a deflection off Wes Brown, sent Kieran Westwood scrambling for his post before trickling wide.
Sunderland was becoming stretched in its attempts to counter, and Spurs took full advantage on the hour mark. A clever reverse pass from Van der Vaart sent Pavlyuchenko racing into the area, and the Russian arrowed a low shot right-footed past Westwood into the far corner.
Now very much on the front foot, Spurs went looking to kill the game off. They had the perfect chance when Westwood parried Adebayor’s chipped finish straight into the path of Modric, but the Croatian managed to scoop his shot over an empty net from a matter of yards out.
Sunderland was having to defend doggedly just to keep within touching distance of the home side, as Spurs undermined their own attempts to double the lead with some poor decision-making in the final third.
Adebayor, Pavlyuchenko and Van der Vaart went closest to a second late on, but one goal was ultimately enough to secure the win for the home side.