A much-needed, well-won, heartstopping victory. Sunderland are just about safe now, barring a crazy run-in, and can even aspire to mid-table respectability. Here is an updated, edited version of our earlier attempts to offer running commentary (itself a rarity at Salut! Sunderland) …
This was a pulsating match and, in the end, an inspiring win. Darren Bent grabbed two goals before 30 minutes had passed, had a fabulous chance to score a hat trick before the interval and another chance afterwards, but twice had penalties well saved by Gomes.
After Peter Crouch made life uncomfortable by pulling Spurs one back, Zenden eased the nerves… and three more points were in the bag.
Sunderland’s first-half tenacity and surging pressure made them great value for the two-goal lead.
Bent’s first came from a clinical finish after Campbell’s goalbound effort was parried by Gomes. The second came from a penalty for a clear handball, though Spurs will question whether there was intent.
The third that eluded him would have been from a second penalty, this one harsher after Campbell seemed to run into an outstretched foot rather than actually be tripped by it. Outcome: reasonable spot kick, excellent save.
The third penalty was the clearest, but again Gomes defied Bent to end that part of their season (penalties saved and scored): Gomes 3 Bent 1.
But only a Spurs diehard would have doubted that SAFC fully deserved the lead. And we’ve certainly paid our dues in terms of dodgy decisions against us.
Then, with Pete Sixsmith inside the ground and the other half of Salut! Sunderland facing distraction by family commitments that threatened* access to screens or radio commentary, it remained only to hope nothing would go wrong.
Tottenham’s livelier start after the break – and our second penalty miss – made that caution appropriate. And then Crouch’s simple header put Spurs straight back in the game when we should have been out of sight.
Zenden’s goal came as Salut! struggled to keep in touch with the game, live commentary via the SAFC club site failing again for some reason and the dodgy streams dodgier than ever. It couldn’t have been more welcome.
Spurs had plenty of moments of their own in a game any neutral must have found totally fascinating. Their finishing, fortunately, was worse than ours (though no one did worse in front of goal than Kenwyne Jones, who squandered a massive opportunity to put the game out of doubt) and Craig Gordon was once again in terrific form. Steed Malbranque was outstanding, too, reminding Spurs that what Bernie Kingsley, the Tottenham Supporters’ Trust chairman speaking here the other day, called their “reserves” still have much to offer at the highest level.
And thanks to all those who have troubled to post entirely partisan comments below.
* Football triumphed in the end over family obligations.