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May 19, 2013
• White Hart Lane, London
Referee: A. Marriner
• Attendance: 36763
G. Bale 89'
Anyway, that'll be all from me today, Sam Wells. Thanks for following today's proceedings with me and be sure to catch up with any post-match reaction on Goal.com. Until next time, farewell!
That is certainly bittersweet for Tottenham, perhaps more bitter than sweet in all honesty. They won by virtue of another Bale screamer, but their efforts proved to be futile as a Laurent Koscielny goal killed their Champions League hopes regardless. Spurs will be despondent but they can take a little solace in their performance today; they played well against a stoic Sunderland outfit that made matters hard for them. The fact that they ended up relying on Bale once again may trouble Villas-Boas but he can hold his head high as he looks onto next season - a season that, excruciatingly, will not contain any Champions League football for his squad.
And the referee has called time on proceedings! A win but the three points are tinged with intense disappointment as news filters through that Arsenal have beaten Newcastle 1-0; Spurs have failed to qualify for the Champions League.
90' + 4'
Defoe goes close to adding to the lead but his shot is blocked by Cuellar. Sunderland's defence really has been impressive today.
90' + 3'
Spurs have a throw-in deep in the Sunderland half; they're taking their time and why wouldn't they? They've done their job; all they can do is hope and pray that the Magpies do them a favour. There's one minute remaining at Arsenal so it'll have to be soon.
90' + 2'
Sunderland, somewhat half-heartedly, push forward, but Mandron gives away another free kick, allowing Spurs to play the ball around at the back.
There are four added minutes here but, frankly, Spurs' fans' worries no longer lie here but rather, at St. James Park. Sunderland look as though they have little intention of spoiling Villas-Boas' side's party here.
Assist Aaron Lennon
Goal Gareth Bale
Bale scores an absolute screamer! Out of nowhere, the Welshman picks up the ball about 30 yards from goal, cuts inside and fires an unstoppable strike into the top corner. That is absolutely brilliant! Spurs (or Bale) appear to have done their job now, their fate is now entirely in the hands of Newcastle.
Huddlestone has another long-range effort deflected wide for a corner and duly scurries over to take the corner himself. Adebayor heads the ensuing set-piece goalwards but his header is diverted behind for yet another corner.
Despite their one man advantage, Spurs are becoming increasingly frustrated as five minutes remain in this clash. The hope appears to be sapping out of the Tottenham players as Sunderland are awarded a free kick in the opposition's half.
Tottenham continue to test Mignolet but their efforts are becoming increasingly desperate. Bale's cross falls to Defoe who, unable to work himself an opening, finds Sigurdsson on the edge of the area but his shot is blocked by Larsson. The ball falls to the waiting Huddlestone about 30 yards out but the Sunderland keeper saves his effort with relative ease.
Adebayor, impressive today in spite of his ability to score, almost works himself an opening on the edge of the area with a smart turn but the equally impressive Cuellar is smart to it, denying the striker with a tidy challenge.
Spurs prepare to throw on Sigurdsson in their final attempt to break the deadlock in this game. Defoe has done very little since he came on, Villas-Boas will be hoping that the Icelandic midfielder can have more of an impact on proceedings.
Lennon makes an absolute mockery of Larsson down the left wing once again and his cross eventually finds it way out to Bale on the edge of the area. The winger fires an effort towards the far corner but Mignolet is there to claim the strike.
Yellow Card Mikael Mandron
Bale completely overcooks his free kick though, curling his cross into the back post and, unfortunately for the home team, to no one. The ball runs out for a goal kick as we are just ten minutes from the capitulation of Spurs' Champions League dream.
Bale is hacked down mercilessly by substitute Mandron, giving the home team a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the box on the right wing.
The sense of frustration amongst the Tottenham ranks is growing ever more palpable as the game draws to a close. Bale draws howls of derision from his teammates as he selfishly goes for a goal from a difficult angle, only succeeding in firing the ball into the grateful Simon Mignolet's arms.
Bale drives the ensuing free kick goalwards - his third effort at goal from a set-piece today. The ball dips and swerves in its now customary fashion but it doesn't dip enough, flying disappointingly over the bar.
Yellow/Red David Vaughan
David Vaughan is sent off! The midfielder receives his second bookable offence after bringing down Lennon on the edge of the area. The winger proved too quick for him and the tackle was mistimed - that looked like a justifiable decision, in all honesty.
Walker stings the hands of Mignolet less than a minute after Bale did the same! The right-back's strike is from distance and the Sunderland keeper does well to dive to his right and catch the driven effort. Defoe comes on for Dempsey as Villas-Boas goes all out for a win here at White Hart Lane.
Bale almost scores a wonderful goal! He is played in over the top and takes it down adeptly on his chest, he turns Colback this way and that before working the ball onto his right foot. He fires a shot goalwards but Mignolet saves with aplomb, turning the ball away.
The pressure is relentless as Spurs continue to knock balls into the area and fire shots in at goal. Sunderland are proving equal to the challenge though as they make a series of blocks in quick succession, perhaps the best of which being O'Shea at the feet of Adebayor.
Adebayor earns yet another corner, this time off the legs of Colback. Sunderland really are hanging on here as Huddlestone drives in another corner.
In a, quite frankly, bemusing moment, Spurs' fans are celebrating for no apparent reason. They appear to believe that Newcastle have levelled proceedings but, unfortunately for Tottenham, that is not the case.
Spurs' frustrations are beginning to tell here; Villas-Boas is looking continuously more agitated on the sidelines and Spurs are doing their best to dispel his concerns as Dawson has another header from a Huddlestone corner turned wide, this time by Larsson.
Spurs continue to push as Bale drives a wonderful crossfield ball into the path of Assou-Ekotto. After some neat interplay, the left back eventually receives a return pass and crosses a ball into Adebayor on his right foot. The striker gets his head on it but is unable to divert the ball goalwards, turning behind for a goal kick.
Tottenham go close again! A corner is played deep by Huddlestone and Dawson is there to meet it with some venom. Mignolet proves equal to it though, tipping the ball away as the Sunderland defence complete the clearance though. How Spurs are not ahead in this game is beyond me.
Absolute pandemonium in the Sunderland area! A scramble ensues after Mignolet drops the ball at the feet of Dempsey, who plays the ball along to Parker. The midfielder strikes at goal but Colback is there to clear, before Adebayor tries his luck, only for the Sunderland defender to avert the ball onto the post! How did Tottenham not score there?!
N'Diaye leads a counter well down the middle, eventually setting Johnson for an effort on the edge of the area. The strike is wild though as the Englishman blazes well over, disappointing.
Larsson gifts Tottenham a corner by virtue of an absymal backpass, perversely blaming Mignolet for no discernible reason. Bale makes a mess of the ensuing set-piece though as it is cleared at the near post.
Sunderland have a free kick in another dangerous position down the right; if they get a goal, that would really make it an uphill task for Spurs. A combination of Adebayor and Huddlestone eventually gets Johnson's free kick clear though and their top four hopes remain alive, albeit fading more and more with each passing minute.
Sunderland counter through McClean down the left, the winger cutting inside before whipping a ball in with his right. Graham gets a flick-on but it falls into the grateful arms of Lloris; a decent effort but never troubling the Frenchman in the Spurs goal.
Tottenham should score again! Bale whips a free kick into the area and Mignolet comes to claim but fumbles at the feet of Vertonghen. The Belgian puts the ball back into the area and Huddlestone is there but, with no Mignolet in goal, the midfielder blasts wastefully over.
Adebayor once again goes close to threading Bale through on goal but the striker's pass is too strong, running through harmlessly to Mignolet. Spurs need a goal if they are to really pile the pressure on Arsenal's tie with Newcastle.
Yellow Card David Vaughan
To add to that penalty pain, news is filtering through to White Hart Lane that Arsenal have taken the lead against Newcastle through Laurent Koscielny! Meanwhile, Bale fires another effort goalwards from a free kick but Mignolet tips wide again.
Villas-Boas is once again irate and, once again, for good reason as Spurs really should have had a penalty! Adebayor turns well on the ball on the edge of the area and fires goalwards. Cuellar is there but he slips and ends up clearly handling the ball in the area. The referee sees nothing in it though and, for the second time in this game, refuses to give the home side a penalty!
Huddlestone is caught dwelling on the ball in the Spurs half by a resolute Wickham. Wickham finds Graham who does well to turn away from Dawson and fire an effort towards the far corner. Lloris saves well though, palming away adeptly.
Wickham puts Graham in over the top but the ball holds up in the air; the former Swansea man attempts a shot nevertheless but his effort is fairly abysmal as he drags it well wide of the far post.
Tottenham go close just minutes into the second half! Assou-Ekotto brushes a weak Larsson aside down the left and cuts the ball back to the edge of the area, both Bale and Adebayor are advancing but neither can get on the end of it. It eventually falls to Lennon but he shoots tamely wide.
Spurs start the second half in frustrating fashion as Bale's attempts to find Lennon down the right wing go awry, the ball heading straight out of play for a throw.
Once Bale is done remonstrating with the referee about the penalty decision early in the first half, Sunderland get the second underway at White Hart Lane!
Both teams are now back out on the pitch as we eagerly await what could be a decisive second half.
Sunderland, meanwhile, will be pleased with their contribution to the first half. Though they have enjoyed little in the way of possession, they had perhaps the best chance of the first half courtesy of Wickham's strike that Lloris smartly turned away. Paolo Di Canio has ample reason to be pleased with a Black Cats side that, on the face of it, appear to have little to play for. They are certainly not playing that way and their Italian manager will be hopeful that the same attitude persists, and ultimately prevails, in the second period.
Despite Spurs' strangehold over possession, they have yet to really test Mignolet in the Sunderland goal; it speaks volumes that their main attacking contribution of the half comes in the form of a penalty shout. Nevertheless, they have played well up until the final third and, perhaps even more importantly, they will be delighted that they remain in with a shout at the top four as Arsenal have also failed to break the deadlock at Newcastle.
45' + 2'
It's half time here as the referee calls time on a lively first half, the main talking point of which arguably being Bale's penalty claim - a claim that the referee adjudged to be insufficiently convincing.
45' + 1'
As two minutes injury time are called, Sunderland have an opportunity to test Spurs just before the break with a free kick in a dangerous position. Johnson whips the ball in from deep but Lloris is there to punch away with aplomb. It looks like this game will be goalless at half time.
McClean has endured a difficult season and he is enduring a similarly difficult afternoon - he is struggling to get the better of Walker down the right as the England international intervenes to halt McClean's progress once more.
Incidentally, it remains goalless at St. James Park, meaning that a Tottenham goal before half time would likely give them the advantage going into the interval. Dempsey attempts to provide his team with that advantage but his effort from distance is too tame as Mignolet claims the ball with a fair amount of ease.
Spurs continue in their efforts to open the scoring as Lennon puts in a dangerous cross from the right wing, forcing Mignolet to come out and punch the ball away - the winger is really causing Sunderland's full-backs problems today.
Bale goes oh-so-close to breaking the deadlock! O'Shea provides the forward with a golden opportunity as he heads back to Mignolet, not realising the Welshman is lurking behind him. Bale is unable to capitalise though as, on the slide, he turns his effort wide of the goal.
Yellow Card James McClean
Bale does indeed strike at goal but Mignolet dives to his left and proves himself more than equal to the effort, palming wide adeptly.
McClean brings down Huddlestone dangerously about 30 yards from goal. It's in a central position so, aside from the booking, the Irishman should be worried about affording Bale an opportunity from this kind of rage. Let's see if he can do something with it.
Wickham has another shot blocked after N'Diaye finds him in the area; he swivels and hits it impressively on the turn but Vertonghen is there to deflect away for a throw-in.
Lennon, who's switched flanks with Bale, absolutely roasts Larsson down the left before finding his Welsh team-mate in the area. He strikes against Colback and claims handball; nothing doing though and the chance goes begging.
The away side are definitely coming more and more into this game, worryingly for Spurs. Johnson finds Wickham with a nice pass, the striker takes it on his chest but his strike is blocked by Dawson.
McClean stands on the ball in a fairly hazardous area, just to the right of the penalty area. Lennon picks it up and plays it to Adebayor, who duly beats a man before putting a ball into the area. Mignolet claims with consummate ease though and the danger is averted.
Johnson almost does excellently down the right, beating Ekotto and Bale but his efforts are in vain as the ball just runs over the touchline and out. You suspect that the Englishman will have to fulfill some of his potential if the Black Cats are to get anything out of this game.
Lennon, typically lively thus far, finds Adebayor with a neat through ball but the rangy striker is caught offside and Sunderland get some respite.
That was much better from the visitors and it looks to have given them a new lease of life; they're now retaining the ball much better and appear to be working their way into this game.
Lloris is finally tested and it's Connor Wickham! Graham does really well down the right, driving a ball in towards his strike partner. The young Englishman flicks an effort goalwards but the Spurs keeper is more than equal to the shot.
Tottenham earn another corner through the endeavour of Lennon but Bale's set-piece is cleared at the near post. Sunderland are showing little signs of attacking threat but Spurs will want a goal before half time.
Vertonghen, typically impressive thus far, brings the ball out of defence and finds Assou-Ekotto. The Spurs defender plays it inside as the home side continue to build against a resolute Sunderland set-up.
Huddlestone stings the gloves of Mignolet from distances after Adebayor's cross is cleared by N'Diaye. A decent effort but the goalkeeper was always reaching that one.
The Spurs crowd appears to be riled after that refereeing decision as they vent their frustrations at the official after a throw-in call goes against them. That penalty call might just have given Spurs the impetus in this game.
Yellow Card Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale booked for another dive after he went over following Larsson's challenge in the box. The Welshman, along with his manager, is incensed and perhaps for good reason - there did appear to be something in that. Perhaps his reputation preceded him there?
Spurs continue to impress as the Black Cats have yet to test Lloris thus far; the same can be really said of Mignolet though, Adebayor's early effort aside.
Tottenham go close to capitalising on their pressure once more as the rejuvenated Adebayor almost finds Bale in the area after Dempsey did well to find the striker down the left. You feel like it's only a matter of time before the home side manage to find a breakthrough here.
Spurs have still not managed to break through, despite all their early dominance. Their possession hasn't really yielded any real chances as of yet; Vertonghen looks to put that right with a ball over the top to Adebayor but Mignolet intervenes once more.
Adebayor and Walker link up well down the right but the striker's pass is just too heavy and the ball runs through to Mignolet. Spurs have started strongly but would most certainly like to capitalise on their pressure some time soon.
Spurs retain their stronghold over possession as Sunderland sit back and soak up the pressure, surely they can't keep this kind of resistance up all game?
Arsenal's game remains goalless at the moment as Spurs continue to push, Vertonghen knocking a majestic crossfield ball to Lennon, letting the winger run at Colback. Colback does well though, deflecting the diminutive midfielder's cross behind for a corner.
Spurs continue to press as they look for that vital opener, they look hungry today and the Black Cats appear to have little in the way of answers to the home side's relentless pressure.
Spurs have started in the ascendancy as they earn a quick succession of corners, almost managing to capitalise as Dawson's header is turned wide of the goal by O'Shea.
Simon Mignolet is called into action early doors as the goalkeeper is forced to rush out and punch clear after a corner nearly finds it way to Bale. The Sunderland goalkeeper could be busy today.
And we're underway here! Spurs kick off proceedings, playing the ball about calmly as they look to assert themselves on this potentially vital game.
Both teams are out on the pitch now as we are just minutes away from kick off here at a packed White Hart Lane.
Sunderland, meanwhile, make two changes to the side that earned a vital point against Southampton last Sunday as David Vaughan and Connor Wickham come in at the expense of Phil Bardsley and Danny Rose, the former left out after being snapped at a casino lying in a pile of £50 notes while the latter is, slightly more respectably, ruled out as he is ineligible to play against his parent club.
Andre Villas-Boas makes a solitary change from the team that managed a 2-1 win over Stoke last Sunday with Benoit Assou-Ekotto replacing Steven Caulker, meaning that Jan Vertonghen moves back into the centre of defence alongside Michael Dawson.
Sunderland: Mignolet; Larsson, O'Shea, Cuellar, Colback; Johnson, N'Diaye, Vaughan, McClean; Graham, Wickham. Subs: Westwood, Marrs, Mandron, Knott, Ferguson, Harrison, Mitchell.
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Parker, Dempsey; Bale; Adebayor. Subs: Friedel, Caulker, Naughton, Dembele, Holtby, Sigurdsson, Defoe.
And here come the team line-ups...
This is one of the only games on the final day that could be a pivotal fixture in the Premier League as Spurs look for a win that could see them leapfrog Arsenal, climbing into fourth to claim Champions League qualification at the very end of the season. Of course, it could also be meaningless if the Gunners win their game away against Newcastle as not even a win would then salvage fourth position for Andre Villas-Boas' men. Arsenal's goal difference is also far superior so Tottenham can only win here and hope that their rivals drop points in their fixture; a big ask but eminently possible given Newcastle's talents and the pressure that the Gunners will be under. Tottenham will be looking to do as professional a job as possible in order to pile the pressure on their close rivals, while Paolo Di Canio's Sunderland will simply be looking to spoil the party. This could be a cracker!
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of today's Premier League clash between Tottenham and Sunderland, I'm Sam Wells and I'll be guiding you through today's proceedings.
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