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Lennon fires Spurs into third place
Published : 29 Dec 2012 15:17:22
Tottenham climbed to third place in the Premier League after Aaron Lennon's strike capped his side's fightback in their 2-1 win against Sunderland on Saturday.
Andre Villas-Boas's team trailed when John O'Shea notched his first goal for Sunderland late in the first half at the Stadium of Light.
But the north Londoners hit back with two goals in three minutes early in the second half as Carlos Cuellar's own goal was followed by the winner from England winger Lennon.
That double blast was enough to seal Tottenham's sixth win in their last eight league matches and lift them one point above Chelsea, who travel to Everton on Sunday.
The only dark cloud for Spurs was the latest diving controversy involving Wales winger Bale.
Not for the first time this season, Bale fell theatrically after a slight tug from Craig Gardner in the penalty area, earning a booking that rules him out of Tottenham's next match against Reading.
Bale, who scored a hat-trick in his side's win at Aston Villa on Boxing Day, showed the more positive side to his game early on when he surged away from Gardner and crossed for Emmanuel Adebayor, whose shot lacked the power to beat Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Mignolet had to be quick off his line to block Adebayor's shot after Lennon, capitalising on a mistake from James McClean, slipped a pass behind the Sunderland defence.
Bale couldn't keep his header on target from Lennon's cross as Tottenham pushed for the opener.
Sunderland were wobbling at the back and a blunder from Spanish defender Cuellar almost gifted Spurs the lead on the half hour.
When Jermain Defoe curled a cross in from the left, Cuellar completely misjudged his attempt to clear and the ball ran through to Adebayor. But from no more than four yards out the Togo striker could only prod his shot onto the crossbar.
After that narrow escape Sunderland took the lead against the run of play in the 40th minute.
Sebastian Larsson's free-kick caused chaos in the Totenham defence and Steven Fletcher pounced with a close-range effort that Hugh Lloris could only palm into the path of O'Shea who fired home from six yards.
But Sunderland's advantage was short-lived as the visitors took over at the start of the second half.
In the 48th minute, Kyle Walker whipped over an inswinging corner and Cuellar's attempt to head clear only succeeded in diverting the ball into his own net.
And three minutes later Villas-Boas's team were ahead. It was all down to the poise and pace of Lennon, who cleverly flicked the ball around O'Shea before racing clear and slipping a cool finish past Mignolet.
Defoe should have put Spurs in complete control on the hour when Bale ended an incisive run down the left by picking out the England striker, but his close-range effort was brilliantly pushed away by Mignolet.