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Bent double draws praise from Bruce
Published : 04 Apr 2010 09:40:00
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce saluted match-winner Darren Bent despite seeing him miss two penalties in a 3-1 win over his former club Tottenham. The England international took his tally for the season to 23 with a quickfire first-half double, but was then twice denied from the spot by goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who also saved a Bent penalty at White Hart Lane earlier in the season. Bruce was in no mood to blame his £10million summer signing for the misses having himself experienced the misery of failing from 12 yards during his playing days at Manchester United. He said: "We mustn't forget he has won us the game. Okay, he is disappointed that he has missed two penalties, but all good players miss penalties. "I have done so myself - I lost to Sheffield United and then I lost in Russia. "I remember (then United chairman) Mr (Martin) Edwards saying, 'Thanks Steve, you have just cost us £12million'. Great players can miss penalties. "No, in seriousness, we mustn't forget he has been fantastic and again, he has got two goals for us. "It could have been a wonder-day for him, couldn't it? It wasn't quite, but he has been fantastic for Sunderland and these things happen. "It made my life a little bit uncomfortable for a while, but it was a wonderful spectacle." In a remarkable game, Sunderland raced into 2-0 lead within 29 minutes, and inevitably, it was Bent who did the damage. He struck for the first time with 36 seconds on the clock after Gomes could only parry Fraizer Campbell's header, and then converted from the spot after Kyle Walker had handed to take his tally for the season to 23. But he saw two second-half penalties saved by Gomes as the Black Cats failed to kill the game off, and that might have proved costly when Peter Crouch reduced the deficit 18 minutes from time just seconds after coming on as a substitute. Home nerves were calmed four minutes from time when Sunderland substitute Bolo Zenden steered home a sumptuous volley to all but mathematically guarantee his side's place in next season's top flight. Bruce, however, insists there is still work to be done. He said: "I think 38 (points) is not quite going to be enough. "I have never, ever thought we would be involved in a relegation battle - I don't know what all the fuss is about. "We have got to try to catch Stoke and Blackburn. At the moment, where I see us is arguably third off top in our league. "That's got to be the aim, to finish as high as we can in our league. "We could all pick our top eight, but we have got to get Sunderland in and around that 10th position, and that's what we will aim to do." Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, who sold Bent to Sunderland, was philosophical about the striker's contribution to the game. He said: "It doesn't bother me, good luck to him. He's in good form, he scored a couple of goals, so what?" The defeat ended a run of five successive league victories for Spurs, but Redknapp is still convinced they can win the battle for fourth place. He said: "It's still wide-open, we just need to get one or two players back, that's our problem. "From the neutral's point of view, it was probably a great game. "They (Sunderland) were up for it today - they don't play like that every week, do they? "But today, they were full of it. They chased every ball, they pressed, they worked - they played very well today. Full credit to Sunderland."