Football Echo Verdict: Sunderland 2 Spurs 2

Adam Johnson slams home Sunderland's first leveller against Tottenham. Picture by Kevin Brady
Adam Johnson slams home Sunderland's first leveller against Tottenham. Picture by Kevin Brady
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THE DICK Turpin category of robbed results wasn’t kind to Sunderland last season.

Every defensive mistake, every missed chance and every sub-standard performance was invariably punished in emphatic fashion.

So no-one will be shedding any tears that Tottenham failed to register the win which their vast superiority undoubtedly deserved.

If you don’t make the most of being in the ascendancy, then there’s little point clutching at sob stories.

But it wasn’t fortune alone which saw Sunderland register their third draw from four league outings.

There is a far greater resilience around Gus Poyet’s side these days. It showed on the opening day at West Brom; it showed when they fell behind against a sub-standard Manchester United outfit and it showed again against Spurs.

As the game went into its final stages, Sunderland’s players looked utterly spent after spending the bulk of the encounter chasing shadows.

Other than a rasping long-range drive from Adam Johnson, they had barely had a sniff of the Spurs goal after the England winger’s equaliser either.

But Sunderland hung in there. They never threw in the towel - as they frequently did last season - and came out with another point on the board; one which inevitably has to be classed as a bonus point.

They could even have won it, had Will Buckley showed a touch more composure in the last minute.

Sunderland haven’t performed brilliantly in any of their first four league games, but they are not suffering defeat after defeat either. That’s not a bad trait to have whatsoever.

Saying that though, there undoubtedly needs to be an improvement in a vital trip to Burnley next weekend, albeit the Clarets will be nowhere near the standard of a hugely impressive Spurs side.

Sunderland were second best for long, long spells, as Spurs enjoyed the same kind of domination which Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton boasted in January’s 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light.

Even cancelling out Tottenham’s early opener so quickly in a breathless first five minutes didn’t halt the domination of the visitors.

The Black Cats’ midfield couldn’t get anywhere near their exceptional counterparts, as Moussa Dembele, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela ran the show - constantly finding space and both out-muscling and out-thinking Poyet’s trio in the middle.

With Poyet’s defence sitting too deep too, there was room for Spurs to play the ball around, monopolise possession and use the constant overlapping runs of ex-Sunderland loanee Danny Rose down the left flank.

Sunderland couldn’t get the ball enough to worry the Spurs defence, with only Johnson’s individual efforts really threatening.

Debutant Ricky Alvarez showed a few flashes, but the gamble made by Poyet in throwing the Argentine international straight into the fold, didn’t necessarily pay off.

He will need a month or two to acclimatise.

Sunderland rode their luck, with Spurs twice hitting the woodwork and Vito Mannone producing several smart saves, even if the Italian should perhaps have pushed the ball further away for the opener.

But Poyet’s side fought back.

Mentally, this will have felt like a win in the home dressing room afterwards.

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