WES BROWN continued his encouraging comeback from long-term injury by helping Sunderland through to the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy, reports Chris Young in Hong Kong.
Brown, who hasn’t played a competitive first-team game since January 2012 and last appeared for Sunderland in pre-season last summer, grabbed a second half goal for the Black Cats as they came from behind to beat Premier League rivals Spurs 3-1.
The encounter was badly affected by the conditions, with kick-off delayed by half-an-hour and the game reduced to 40 minutes each way after torrential rain left the pitch waterlogged.
But it developed into a decent encounter, particularly in the second half when Sunderland’s superior fitness saw them deservedly run out winners.
Gylfi Sigurdsson had given Spurs the lead via a deflected strike, but Sunderland drew level before the interval after a smart finish from summer signing Cabral.
Fellow new boy Jozy Altidore then spurned several opportunities to put Sunderland ahead before Brown showed him the way when he headed home David Moberg Karlsson’s corner.
Moberg Karlsson sealed the victory in the final minute on the counter-attack, when he swept the ball under Brad Friedel.
Paolo Di Canio named a strong starting line-up, with new signings Vito Mannone, Cabral, Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini all included.
Former Sunderland loanee Danny Rose started for Spurs after the Echo revealed yesterday how he is part of Andre Villas-Boas’ plans at White Hart Lane this season.
But there was no place for Gareth Bale after the Welsh winger was ruled out with a knock sustained on the training field.
Gylfi Sigurdsson produced the first effort on goal in the second minute with a right-footed free-kick from 25 yards which Mannone comfortably shadowed behind.
Sunderland had a couple of half-chances on the break in the exchanges that followed - most notably when Stephane Sessegnon latched onto Mannone’s punt after Steven Caulker’s slip, only for Michael Dawson to block his shot from the edge of the area.
But the conditions saw the game become increasingly farcical as a spectacle.
With their first chance though, it was Spurs who broke the deadlock in the 28th minute when Kyle Walker surged beyond Giaccherini down the right-hand side of the area and picked out Sigurdsson 12 yards out.
Sigurdsson hit a right-footed shot which took a wicked deflection off John O’Shea that left Mannone stranded.
Altidore went close to grabbing an equaliser when he latched onto Sessegnon’s scuffed shot, only to be denied by the alert Heurelho Gomes.
But moments Sunderland were level, and in some style.
Altidore intercepted Tom Huddlestone’s loose touch and played a first-time pass into the path of the onrushing Cabral.
The Bosman arrival charged into the area, held off the attempted challenge of Huddlestone and calmly swept the ball into the far corner.
Three minutes before the interval, Craig Gardner unleashed a free-kick from 25 yards which bounced just before Gomes, who managed to push it away.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 1 Spurs 1
Spurs made three changes at the interval with Jermain Defoe, Brad Friedel and Jan Vertonghen replacing Aaron Lennon, Gomes and Caulker.
Sunderland could have taken the lead within two minutes of the re-start when Sessegnon’s lofted cross from the left was headed back into the goalmouth at the far post by Adam Johnson.
The ball fell to Altidore, unmarked six yards out, but he couldn’t make any contact as the offside flag remained down.
The American whistled an effort just wide again in the 51st minute after Walker was caught out trying to play the ball off Giaccherini on the left-hand touchline.
Giaccherini fed Altidore 12 yards out and after initially finding himself blocked in, the £6million striker managed to make a yard for himself before striking a left-footed shot across goal and wide of the far post.
Mannone produced a smart tip over the top four minutes later after Clint Dempsey slipped in Emmanuel Adebayor down the left-hand side of the area.
Adebayor tried to curl a right-footed shot into the far corner, but Mannone was equal to it as he diverted the ball over the top.
Mannone came to Sunderland’s rescue again on the hour mark after Sunderland failed to intercept Rose’s cross frmo the left.
Defoe took the ball down 10 yards out, but his left-footed shot on the turn was palmed away by the Italian stopper.
Di Canio made a double substitution in the 62nd minute with David Moberg Karlsson and El-Hadji Ba introduced for Seb Larsson and Adam Johnson.
Moberg Karlsson made an instant impact as Sunderland grabbed the lead with 16 minutes to go.
The Swede’s right-wing corner was met at the far post by the diving header of Brown, whose effort crept into the net.
Sunderland could and should have stretched their advantage further in the 71st minute when Cabral’s ball over the top put Sessegnon in the wrong side of the Spurs defence.
Sessegnon opted to square the ball to Altidore, whose effort across goal was pushed behind by Friedel.
From the resulting corner, Ba forced the American keeper into action again with a right-foot shot from the edge of the area which was well-parried.
Altidore then made way for Wickham and the England Under-21 striker almost scored with his first touch - a header from Moberg Karlsson’s inswinging cross which was brilliantly kept out by Friedel.
Moberg Karlsson did make it three in the last minute, latching onto Sessegnon’s hook over the top, racing clear and coolly placing the ball beyond the Spurs stopper.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 3 Spurs 1
SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Gardner, Brown (Roberge 77), O’Shea, Colback, Johnson (Moberg Karlsson 62), Larsson (Ba 62), Cabral, Giaccherini (McClean 88), Sessegnon, Altidore (Wickham 74). Subs not used: Pickford, Westwood, Wickham, Vaughan, Mandron, Cuellar.
SPURS: Gomes (Friedel 41), Walker, Caulker (Vertonghen 41, Fryers 50), Dawson, Rose, Lennon (Defoe 41), Parker, Huddlestone (Carroll 70), Dempsey (Townsend 70), Sigurdsson, Adebayor. Subs not used: Lloris, Naughton, Assou-Ekotto.