It was a tale of two strikers at White Hart Lane as Jermain Defoe came back from Canada for his Sunderland debut, while Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor came in from the cold after two month’s leave of absence.
Defoe was unable to continue his habit of scoring on every debut, as the Spurs team he left less than a year ago moved back into the top five when Christian Eriksen scored another late winning goal, the fifth time the Dane has done so this season. Jan Vertonghen had put Spurs ahead in the third minutes with a shot that took a heavy deflection off John O’Shea, before Sebastian Larsson equalised with a superb curling free-kick.
Both sides had good chances before Eriksen ran on to Andros Townsend’s pass to shoot home for yet another late winning goal.
“It was tough today, but when it was 1-1 in the 88th minute we still had the belief we could win the game, so it was great to see Christian Eriksen score the winning goal again,” said Adebayor. “It was great for him and the team.”
Adebayor’s entrance on the hour was greeted with a few boos by those Tottenham fans still unhappy with the way he criticised their lack of support when he last played, a 2-1 defeat by Stoke two months ago.
He returned to sort out issues with his family back in Ghana and was injured on his return. Although Daniel Levy is willing to sell the striker, who earns £100,000 per week, manager Mauricio Pochettino wants to keep his options open if Tottenham fail to sign the striker he wants in this transfer window. “He is an important player for us. We need to recover his quality for the team. We need to give him the opportunity to play because all players are important.”
Adebayor thanked the manager for his support. “I went through a lot. I spoke to the manager and he knows what I can do. We have a good relationship, mutual respect. He knows what I have been through and I can trust him like a friend. Whenever I have a problem I can go to him and he can help me find a solution. It is always good to have a man-manager like him.”
Adebayor did not elaborate on his family problems, saying cryptically: “I am happy to be me, and I know those who love me and I also know those who hate me. Things were not right with my family so I decided to go home and find a solution. When I came back here I got a few injuries. The main thing for me is to get my head right and my life back on track. Football is only a game. We enjoy it, we embrace it but sometimes you have to take a break and now I am very happy to be back playing and doing my job again. I am not afraid to face up to reality, and if I have to leave I will leave. But at the moment, I am at the club and very happy to be here.”
TOTTENHAM 4-3-2-1: Lloris 8; Walker 7 Dier 6 Vertonghen 7 Rose 7; Stambouli 7 Dembele 6; Eriksen 9 Kane 6 Chadli 6; Soldado 5.
SUNDERLAND 3-5-2: Pantilimon 7; Brown 6 O’Shea 6 Vergini 6; Jones 6 Larsson 6 Johnson 7 Rodwell 6 Van Arnholt 6; Defoe 6 Fletcher 5.
Referee: C Foy.