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Premier League

  • November 9, 2010
  • • 20:00
  • • White Hart Lane, London
  • Referee: H. Webb
  • • Attendance: 35843

Tottenham 1-1 Sunderland: Gyan Gifted Equaliser By Defensive Mix-Up After Van der Vaart's Controversial Opener

Tottenham 1-1 Sunderland: Gyan Gifted Equaliser By Defensive Mix-Up After Van der Vaart's Controversial Opener

Gordon denied clean-sheet on inspirational return to side

By Richard Parry at White Hart Lane

Tottenham were held at home by a resurgent Sunderland side, after Asamoah Gyan's equaliser cancelled out a somewhat controversial opener from the returning Rafael van der Vaart.

But both goals were avoidable, and Sunderland will feel that Spurs' opener should have been chalked off for a handball as his span to apply the finish from close range, while Gyan was on hand to capitalise on a defensive mix-up between Gallas and Kaboul, to net his third goal in two matches.

Van der Vaart, who was a huge doubt ahead of the match, was named in a starting line-up which also included David Bentley and Roman Pavlyuchenko, with Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar dropping to the bench.

In one of five changes to the side which defeated Stoke City at the weekend, Steve Bruce handed a start to Scotland international, Craig Gordon, his first start of the season after suffering a recurrence of the same arm injury sustained during the corresponding fixture at White Hart Lane last season, during a challenge with Jermain Defoe.

The home side started the brighter in what turned out to be an increasingly end to end contest, in a first-half which contained no fewer than 11 corners for Redknapp's side.

Luka Modric tested the returning Gordon with a low drive after Sunderland failed to defend a corner, but the Scotland international showed great agility to get down low to deny the Croatian's rasping drive.

Pavlyuchenkon then looked to make the breakthrough, after collecting the ball just inside the Sunderland half. The Russian span, and darted towards the penalty area as Michael Turner and Titus Bramble were lost as to whether to close-down or drop back, but the striker's effort curled wide of the upright.

Spurs' Croatian playermaker was at the heart of everything positive for the home side, and gave Cristian Riveros, in particular, the run around.

The Black Cats were then inches from opening the scoring, as Bolo Zenden slipped in Asamoah Gyan, but the Ghaniaian forward, who bagged a brace against Stoke at the weekend, could only find the legs of Younes Kaboul, with the Frenchman fortunate not to deflect the effort past Heurelho Gomes.

Gordon, despite an impressive return to the line-up, was helpless, when Tom Huddlestone unleashed an absolute pile-driver of a half-volley which cannoned off of the crossbar, to relief of the Bruce. Nonethless, the visiting manager was forced into a change when Anton Ferdinand was replaced by Phil Bardsley, with the former West Ham man suffering from a hamstring complaint.

But the Scotland 'keeper was back to his best when Bentley, from all of 35-yards, drove an arrowed effort towards to the top corner, but shot stopper clawed the ball wide with a fantastic one-handed save.

The second-half started as the first finished, as both sides surged forward, with Redknapp and Bruce making alterations to their line-ups.

Crouch was brought on the replace Pavlyuchenko - who despite a bright start to the match - fizzled out as the half wore on, while Bruce introduced on-loan Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck for the ilusive Cristian Riveros, as Sunderland switched to 4-4-2.

Spurs continued to press, as the corner count increased to 17 by full-time.

Howard Webb was at the centre on controvesry , when he booked Bentley for simulation after a falling in the box under pressure from the impressive Bolo Zenden. The decision looked tight at first, but replays showed that the World Cup final referee was spot on.

Bruce's decision to bring on Welbeck seemed increasingly astute, as the young forward offered the Black Cats an extra option in attack, creating space for the isolated Gyan.

Nonetheless, it would be Spurs who broke the deadlock, in somewhat fortuitous fashion.

A deep cross from Bale found Crouch at the back-post, and as he knocked it down to Van der Vaart to finish, it appeared that Spurs had scored another textbook finish. But on closer inspection, the Dutchman seemed to handle the ball as he span to slot home from close range.

But Spurs' lead lasted all but two minites, as Welbeck provided the spark for Sunderland's equaliser.

The substitute meandered through Spurs defence from the left-hand side, before tunneling a ball inbetween Gallas and Kaboul, when the French pairing seemed odds-on to the clear. The pass found it's way to Gyan, and the World Cup hero applied a neat finish, low into the bottom right corner, to hand the visitors a deserved equaliser.

The result, was that Spurs became more direct, launching balls towards Crouch as the visitors looked to get the ball down and play it.

Cattermole, much criticised this season for some suspect challenges, was fortunate not to be dismissed after diving in on Modric, with studs raised. The midfielder recieved a booking, but it could, and perhaps should, have been a red.

The match ended with the visitors looking most likely to score, and were almost awarded a penalty when substitute Steed Malbranque, who replaced Kieron Richardson, was felled by Gomes just on the edge of the penalty box. The Brazilian was booked, and Zenden resulting free-kick was fired over the cross bar, as the much ran out in what was a well-deserved draw for Bruce's side.