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Spurs v Sunderland, 08.02.03

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 8TH FEBRUARY, 2003
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (2) SUNDERLAND 1 (1)

Spurs scorers:-
Poyet, 14
Doherty, 45
Davies, 67
Sheringham, 84

Sunderland scorer:-
Phillips, 26

Attendance:- 36,075

Referee:- Rob Styles

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr, Richards, King, Taricco; Davies, Anderton, Bunjevcevic (sub Freund, 75), Poyet (sub Etherington, 73): Sheringham (Capt), Keane (sub Doherty, 20)

Subs not used:- Sullivan; Acimovic

No bookings

Sunderland (4-4-2):- Sorenson; Wright, Craddock, Thome (sub Piper, 68), McCartney; Thornton, El Karkouri, McCann (sub Thirlwell, 59), Arca; Proctor (sub Flo, 57), Phillips (Capt)

Subs not used:- Macho; Babb

Booked:- McCann, Phillips

It was landmark day at the Lane today, as Spurs climbed to seventh place to continue their challenge for Europe, and Sunderland maintained their dismal historic record of failing to win at Spurs since 1978, and also failed to give hope of surviving the drop this year. First Gus Poyet, wearing number 14 as always, popped up in the 14th minute to score his 50th league goal in England, which spookily was also his 14th league goal for Spurs. On the stroke of half time, Gary Doherty headed in a corner to score Spurs 250th home Premiership goal, restoring a lead lost to Kevin Phillips beating the offside flag from close range midway through the half.

After the break, Simon Davies scored the best goal of the game, before skipper Teddy Sheringham scored his 300th career club goal with another header from an Anderton corner. This was Teddy's 120th goal for Spurs in his two spells with us. Finally, Spurs also passed through the 100 Premiership points barrier under Glenn Hoddle.

Another full house was pleased to see both Robbie Keane and Dean Richards restored to the starting line-up, but when Keane had to leave after just 20 minutes, hopes of a big win seemed to fade. Robbie's injury is a knee ligament tweak, and not a re-occurrence of his ankle problem. Spurs anxiously await the result of a scan tomorrow, but at least they have over two weeks before their next game.

Spurs play was a bit patchy in the first half, but they always looked capable of beating Sunderland by a big margin. Poyet in particular could have doubled his score with a one on one chance soon after his goal. However, in the second half, the team switched it on, playing some really great football at times to thoroughly deserve their three goal margin, and two or three more to boot!

The Sunderland side looked as if it had a bit of a shake up, with Thornton playing on the right wing, and Talal El Karkouri in the midfield. Thome lined up beside Craddock (making his 150th start), and Phillips was partnered not by Flo, but by Proctor, who was no doubt hoping to score at the right end this week. In fairness he had his chance, and did not endanger his own goal.

Spurs had most of the decent attacks early on, without causing Sorenson any pain, and it was Sunderland who had the first threat of the day after 12 minutes. Phillips pushed the ball out to Thornton whose cross was met by Proctor with a header that went wide of Keller's left post. He could have done better with the chance. Within two minutes, Spurs took the lead following a series of quick short passes just outside the area. Teddy headed to Keane who flicked to Anderton on the left of the area. Darren crossed low to his right and Gus Poyet beat the keeper with a sharply taken shot from 10 yards. Gus could have made it two when Taricco lifted the ball over the defence and Gus was the one to make the pace and have only the keeper to beat. He was at a bit of a sharp angle on the right of the area, but his shot beat Sorenson to go into the side netting only.

Then came the disappointment of seeing Keane have to leave, replaced by Doherty, who, try as he might, just does not play on the same plane as most of his colleagues. Poyet soon had another chance, this time seeing his header from a corner tipped over the bar by the keeper in front of the South Stand, who are by far the most vocal of the Spurs fans these days. Sunderland equalised after a series of corners, when McCann crossed from the right. The Spurs defence ran forward and expected to see the linesman's flag raised, but down it stayed and even Phillips checked him out before and after slotting home from close range.

Anderton then tried his version of a Zola free kick after Poyet had been fouled by Thornton, but the ball curled wide of the keeper's right post. Sunderland had another good chance when the ball was threaded through the Spurs defence by El Karkouri, but Proctor hit his shot straight at Keller. Spurs responded before the break with a high cross from Carr, that was put down to Bunjevcevic in the middle of the box. He shot low, but again this was straight at the keeper who gratefully collected low down. Then came the Doherty goal on the stroke of half time. Anderton floated the corner from the left and Gary rose above the defence to head home from close range. This was Doherty's first goal for the team since the away game against this opposition on April 14th 2001, but then he has not made too many appearances since then, missing a lot of last season through injury.

Spurs came out with a bit more purpose in the second half, and Simon Davies got into the game more, with Carr once again having more licence to attack. All the time, Anderton and Bunjevcevic had been doing a good job in the middle. Within a minute Teddy won a high ball, passed back to Gus whose low shot was only just outside the post. Another good break led to Anderton finding space down the inside left channel, before hitting a low shot that Sorenson touched out for a corner. Howard Wilkinson made two quick substitutions, but to be honest, these did not improve his side, who lost more ground to Tottenham. On the hour Taricco again lifted the ball over the defence who were hoping for an offside flag when they were just 5 yards inside their own half. Both Doherty and Davies raced towards the goal, with Doherty carrying the ball. He had the option to slide the ball to Davies for an easy finish, but hit a tame shot to the goalie.

Such profligacy is often punished ruthlessly, and Phillips tested Keller with a free kick after Anderton had been penalised 22 yards out. Keller was equal to that and also made a double save from the Sunderland skipper for the day, when he was not to know that Phillips had already been flagged. The game was made safe with a cracking goal, when Anderton arrowed a ball into the centre of the box, Poyet, with his back to goal, cleverly flicked the ball through the defence to Simon Davies who ran inside the defender and slotted past Sorenson with his left foot.

McCann's replacement, Thirlwell did have a shot that skimmed the top of Keller's bar, but apart from that Spurs were the likely scorers. Sorenson had to beat away a powerful cross from Carr with Teddy in attendance. This effort came after a delightful period of Spurs possession and play from left to right. El Karkouri gifted the ball to Teddy with a careless back-header, but Teddy shot high and wide, before he had his moment of glory after 84 minutes.

Steffen Freund (who had received a rapturous welcome from the crowd when he replaced Bunjee) hit a shot which was going wide anyway, but was pushed out for a corner by Sorenson. The shot had been deflected and the keeper tried in vain to prevent the corner. As usual, Anderton crossed, and Teddy rose in front of the Paxton stand to head home convincingly and to take the applause for that 300th goal. He even had the t-shirt ready for display!

Spurs now have just over two weeks before their next game, on Monday 24th February, at home to Fulham. The chase for Europe is well and truly on, but we need Robbie to be fit.

Chant of the day (to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory):-

I love Steffen Freund,
Steffen Freund loves me!

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