Paul Harding
high flying

Tottenham up to third in the table but win comes at a cost

Harry Kane scored the opening goal but was later stretchered off.

HARRY KANE FOUND the net for the second time in two Premier League games as Tottenham Hotspur beat Sunderland 1-0 on Sunday, but was stretchered off late on.

The England striker scored at White Hart Lane for the first time since March to lift his team to third and keep the visitors second-bottom in the table.

But he had to be taken from the touchline on a stretcher after turning his ankle in the latter stages of the game.

With Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele also succumbing to injury, it was a bittersweet afternoon for winning manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Dembele was making his first appearance of the campaign after completing a six-game ban for gouging the eye of Chelsea’s Diego Costa last season.

Spurs also gave a first start to Moussa Sissoko, a 30 million pounds ($39 million, 35 million euros) signing from Newcastle United, while Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen dropped to the bench.

Sunderland manager David Moyes, who saw Adnan Januzaj sent off late on, made a change after the team-sheets had been submitted, bringing in Jason Denayer for Patrick van Aanholt at the back.

There was also a return to the starting line-up for captain Lee Cattermole, while Didier Ndong made his first start since moving to Wearside from Lorient.

Kane was the first Spurs player to test Jordan Pickford on eight minutes, the Sunderland goalkeeper forced to tip an effort from six yards out behind the post.

The cross for Kane was delivered by Son Heung-Min, who impressed on the left flank despite pre-season speculation having linked the South Korean with a move away from White Hart Lane.

Such was Spurs’ dominance, it was surprising that the best chance of the first half fell to the visitors.

- Djilobodji blunder -

Adnan Januzaj cut the ball back from the byline to Steven Pienaar, whose shot beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, only for Kyle Walker to clear his slightly scuffed effort off the line.

The start of the second half saw a similar pattern to that of the first, with Tottenham applying pressure on a back line that had conceded three times in 11 minutes in the 3-0 loss to Everton.

Sissoko was giving Sunderland headaches on the right wing and his cross had to be palmed away by Pickford.

On the other wing, Son was sent into space by Dembele’s pass, but decided to fire at the target instead of putting the ball across the face of goal for Dele Alli, hitting the side-netting.

The deadlock was finally broken just before the hour through Kane, who showed a poacher’s instinct to slot home after Papy Djilobodji totally missed his clearance after Alli knocked down Walker’s cross.

The goal moved Moyes to replace Pienaar with Duncan Watmore soon afterwards.

The momentum still remained with Tottenham, however, and Alli forced Pickford to turn his shot away after being allowed to run through the middle of the away defence.

Two changes for the home side were enforced due to injury, with Dembele replaced by Erik Lamela and Dier leaving the field for Ben Davies.

The game became more open due to Sunderland pressing forward, which left them vulnerable on the break.

Lamela almost exploited this with a curled effort past Pickford that went just wide of the post.

Both teams lost important players, with Kane stretchered away from the field after hurting his ankle in a sliding challenge, before Januzaj was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Pickford saved late on from Son, the 22-year-old goalkeeper’s reflexes and agility having spared Sunderland from a much heavier defeat.

(C) AFP 2016

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