Writer: Michael Briggs
Date:Sunday February 13 2011
Sunderland`s European chase took another dint as they succumbed to their third defeat on the trot at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.
Asamoah Gyan`s neat turn and finish opened the game up until Michael Dawson equalised with a powerful header at the stroke of half time.
Niko Kranjcar then sealed off an invigorating performance with a sublime volley and gave Harry Redknapp a massive boost ahead of Tuesday`s match against AC Milan.
With that in mind it was clear that the squad selection the North London boss made the Champions League was his priority with the likes of Peter Crouch and Aaron Lennon on the bench.
In the opening moments of the game it was Sunderland that demonstrated their dominance in attack with Stéphane Sessegnon and Kieran Richardson causing havoc with the Spurs back four.
Their first real attack ended up being the goal itself, Richardson picking up the ball from Phil Bardsely and delivered a low cross to the feet of Gyan who collected and composed himself to give the Black Cats the lead after 11 minutes.
The dominance continued as the home midfield began to boss the game as they blocked their opponents and forced them back on numerous occasions.
After that the game settled as both sides pressed but the battle for possession was mainly in the middle of the park, right up until 44th minute.
John Mensah defended well after Jermaine Defoe`s shot was deflected, Bardsley's clearing header went out for a second corner, and this time Dawson rose majestically from Steven Pienaar's delivery to head home from near the penalty spot.
You could say Craig Gordon could have stopped it as the ball did trickle through his legs but William Gallas` screening run may have unsettled the keeper.
In the second half the goal looked to have lifted the away side as Gallas toe poking shot went inches wide much to the frustration of the home crowd.
Sunderland did have their chances and one fell when Richardson teed Steed Malbranque but his shot was blocked and cleared.
Then came a moment even the Oscars would be proud of when Gyan rose to challenge a high deflected cross against Heurelho Gomes.
After the Brazilian safely collected without contact he confronted the Ghanaian and then crumpled to his knees in 'pain` as the referee approached which infuriated the Sunderland fans.
After that the moment the game turned when Tottenham countered and caught the home side off guard.
Sandro made the critical break from the right flank before firing in a good cross.
itus Bramble's header away was not controlled, and Kranjcar was in exactly the right place to smack a first-time volley with finesse and power past a stranded Gordon.
Sunderland now lie in seventh place and face a crucial set of fixtures with the next of those against an inconstant Everton in two weeks` time, a break that most fans would welcome.
Date:Sunday February 13 2011
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