Spurs salvage late point

07 March 2009 02:26
Sunderland were denied a vital victory over Tottenham Hotspur as Robbie Keane netted in the 89th minute to snatch a 1-1 draw in a frenetic encounter at the Stadium of Light. Both sides headed into the only Premier League fixture of the weekend level on points, with relegation still threatening amid congested standings in the lower half of England's highest tier. Spurs were eyeing a third straight league success, but were dealt a hammer blow after just three minutes as the impressive Kieran Richardson raced onto a loose ball before dispatching coolly. A gutsy and end-to-end match then ensued, with Sunderland looking set for the three points, despite a number of missed chances in front of goal, only for Keane to nestle home a first-time effort in the dying stages. Both clubs are now five points clear of the bottom three, but remain too close for comfort to the battle for top-flight survival. Sunderland, the lower of the two before kick-off, got off to the perfect start when a Spurs defence perhaps feeling the effects of a sixth game inside 17 days was caught napping with just three minutes gone. Steed Malbranque over-ran the ball to allow Ledley King to get in a challenge, but the resulting rebound handed Richardson the chance to surge towards goal. His first touch took him clear of the flat-footed Jonathan Woodgate, and his finish was accomplished to give keeper Heurelho Gomes no chance. Kenwyne Jones and Djibril Cisse kept Woodgate and King on their toes throughout, although without ever fully extending them, and it was not until injury time at the end of the first half that they created another genuine opening with Andy Reid just failing to get to Phil Bardsley's through-ball before Gomes. Spurs winger Aaron Lennon looked capable of breaking down a well-organised Sunderland rearguard as he gave full-back George McCartney a torrid time. Bent only just failed to meet Lennon's driven 10th-minute cross with his forehead, and Keane could not get enough power into his effort from the same source seconds later to trouble keeper Marton Fulop. Indeed, it was left to King to force the first notable save from the Hungarian, who started his career in England at White Hart Lane. Richardson was penalised for a foul on Lennon and when Jermaine Jenas' shot was blocked, King pounced on the rebound from close-range to force a brave stop. Cisse found himself in on goal within seconds of the restart and powered his way into the box from the right. However, with Gomes closing down the angle, he blasted his shot harmlessly into the side-netting. Spurs should have been back on terms after Bent was presented with two glorious opportunities within seconds. Just what Dean Whitehead was trying to do when he sliced a 58th-minute clearance into the striker's path, only he will know, but he was spared the wrath of his manager and team-mates when Bent blasted his left-foot shot wastefully over the bar. The former Charlton frontman, once a target for Sunderland, dragged a right-foot effort wide of the far post a minute later as the home side rode their luck. Reid drilled a 62nd-minute cross across the face of goal and King was relieved to see the ball drop just wide after he had got the last touch when he and Cisse jumped for a high ball five minutes later. Lennon saw appeals for a penalty for handball by Bardsley waved away and Keane lifted a difficult half-volley from Corluka's long ball over the bar as their side's desperation grew. However, substitute Daryl Murphy could have secured the win for the Wearsiders with a left-foot drive which sailed just wide with 11 minutes remaining. Tal Ben Haim made a vital block from Lennon with four minutes to go, but Keane saved the day with a minute remaining when, with the home crowd calling for a penalty for King's challenge on Jones, Spurs broke swiftly and Bent crossed for his captain to volley expertly home.

Source: SKY_Sports