Sunderland 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur

Michael Turner heads towards goal in the first half from a free-kick as Sunderland gain a point against European chasers Tottenham



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor from the Stadium of Light

Tottenham's hopes of a top-four Premier League hang by a thread after being held to a goalless draw at the Stadium of Light.

In normal circumstances, a point at Martin O'Neill's resurgent side would be praiseworthy, but in Tottenham's position it represents a minor setback.

Sunderland, after throwing away a 3-1 lead at Manchester City last weekend, decided to stick with the same team, whilst Spurs also kept the same eleven which beat Swansea 3-1 last time out.



Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel started his 550th Premier League game. Spurs began the game brightly, but the home side neutralised the match, resulting in few clear-cut chances.

The best of them fell to Rafael van der Vaart, whose two goal-bound shots were blocked by Sunderland defenders.

After spending much of the season being touted as the sole opposition to a Mancunian monopoly of the title-race, Tottenham have endured a month of suggestions that their top-four challenge was crumbling.

Last week's 3-1 win over Swansea arrested a pointless five-game slump, but their inability to take all three points at the Stadium of Light leaves them with little room for error during their remaining seven-game run-in.

Harry Redknapp's team began purposefully, zipping passes around neatly in midfield and looking every inch the likely winners.

However, as the old adage goes, you have to capitalise when you are on top and barring a Benoit Assou-Ekotto twenty-yard strike that flew past the far post and a Luka Modric shot on the turn, home keeper Simon Mignolet was not tested.

Sunderland are a tough proposition under Martin O'Neill, particularly at home, where they had lost only one in eight heading into this game. Only Manchester United and Manchester City have earned more points in games since the Northern Irishman's appointment.

The Black Cats rallied, got a better grip on the movement of the Spurs midfield and, from then on, there was little to choose between the teams in an 80-minute war of attrition.

As the team in greater need of a win, Tottenham were more proactive, but they were unable to break down the home side.



Tottenham have only won one of their last seven visits to the Stadium of Light.Van der Vaart saw a decent chance blocked by Matt Kilgallon and then an even better one by Michael Turner, possibly with his arm, before Gareth Bale headed onto the roof of the net.

Sunderland could have snatched something on the break, but Spurs defender Kyle Walker prevented James McClean from converting a Sebastian Larsson cross at the back post.

Tottenham may well look back on this as a point gained, but for now it represents an unsatisfactory reward from a frustrating afternoon.

They go above Arsenal by a point but their North London rivals play Manchester City tomorrow, and that lead is just three points over Newcastle after their win yesterday, and it could be worse if Chelsea overcome Wigan at 3pm.



Saturday 7th April 2012

Barclays Premier League

Stadium of Light


Sunderland 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur                             KO 12:45pm               (HT 0-0)


Sunderland:  22. Mignolet- 6.5/10, 02. Bardsley- 5.5/10 (Richardson 80- 1/10), 04. Turner- 8/10, 12. Kilgallon- 8/10, 14. Colback- 6.5/10, 07. Larsson- 5/10, 08. Gardner- 5.5/10, 06. Cattermole- 6.5/10 (Vaughan 76- 2/10), 23. McClean- 6.5/10, 28. Sessengon- 7/10, 52. Bendtner- 6.5/10.

Subs not used:  20. Westwood, 03. Bridge, 25. Kyrgiakos, 18. Meyler, 17. Ji 

Booked:      Larsson (87), Vaughan (90+3)


  24. Friedel- 6/10, 28. Walker- 7/10, 04. Kaboul- 6.5/10, 13. Gallas- 5.5/10, 32. Assou-Ekotto- 5/10, 11. Van der Vaart- 6/10 (Defoe 83- 1.5/10), 08. Parker (C)- 7/10, 30. Sandro- 6.5/10 (Lennon 65- 4/10), 03. Bale- 7/10, 14. Modric- 6/10, 10. Adebayor- 6/10 
(Saha 77- 2.5/10)

Subs not used:  23. Cudicini, 33. Nelsen, 21. Kranjcar, 29. Livermore

Booked:      Sandro (66), Assou-Ekotto (88)


My Man of the Match:      Mark Kilgallon (Sunderland)- Rating 8/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:      Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland)- Rating 5/10)



Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)- 7/10
Attendance: 39,335



Match Facts

Possession: Sunderland- 44%              Tottenham Hotspur- 56%

Shots: Sunderland- 12              Tottenham Hotspur- 15

Shots on target: Sunderland- 9              Tottenham Hotspur- 8

Shots off target: Sunderland- 3              Tottenham Hotspur- 7 

Corners: Sunderland- 11              Tottenham Hotspur- 4

Fouls: Sunderland- 12              Tottenham Hotspur- 10

Offside: Sunderland- 5              Tottenham Hotspur- 3

Assists: Sunderland- None              Tottenham Hotspur- None



Martin O' Neill - Sunderland Manager

"It was a tough afternoon. We played strongly in the game; we had to as they're a [decent] side. We're pretty satisfied. WQe played well and drew last week and should have won [away at Manchester City] but today it was a hard-earned point."

Click here to see the full interview 



Harry Redknapp - Tottenham Hotspur

"It's a difficult place to come, and whilst they're in good form, I just feltwe could have won today. We started really well. We dominated the ball for fifteen minutes, then they came after us after that and played on the counter-attack. There wasn't a lot of space behind and they were tough to break down."

Click here to here the full interview


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