Christian Eriksen

Tottenham 5-1 Sunderland: Eriksen all-world at White Hart Lane

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You can watch a lot of matches and not see a performance as positively-influential as the display put on by Danish attacker Christian Eriksen in Tottenham’s 5-1 win over Sunderland on Monday.

Eriksen had a goal and two assists, and honestly could’ve had more in a triumphant match that moved Spurs back past Manchester United for sixth-place in the table and put Sunderland’s relegation alert at a season-high.

Spurs responded well to the early day hubbub regarding manager Tim Sherwood’s reported summer departure.

It could’ve been much more worse for the Black Cats without Vito Mannone making a number of strong saves between the sticks for the first 2/3 of the match. They struck first on a horrible error, but Lee Cattermole’s long-awaited first Sunderland goal went for nought.

LIVE FROM WHITE HART LANE: Three things we learned from Tottenham’s win versus Sunderland

The Black Cats are last place in the Premier League with 25 points through 31 matches, and now they’d still be in the drop zone if they earned all six theoretical points from their matches-in-hand.

Emmanuel Adebayor scored a brace, while Gylfi Sigurdsson and 20-year-old Harry Kane also scored for Spurs.

American striker Jozy Altidore didn’t make the Match Day 18 for Sunderland, another rough step in the forward’s progression.

Last-place Sunderland scored early, but seventh place Tottenham struck back to keep things level at one after 45 minutes in North London.

Wes Brown nearly put the Black Cats ahead in the 14th minute, rising above the Spurs backline to head Adam Johnson’s curling left-footed free kick wide of the far post.

But Sunderland would strike first just five minutes later behind the firmly-tucked-in shirt of Lee Cattermole, who found an awful back pass from Chiriches and scored his first goal for the Black Cats in 113 appearances.

Kane almost equalized moments later, but Vito Mannone was wise to rescue the low left-footer from the goal.

LIVE FROM WHITE HART LANE: Sherwood unfazed by speculation, as Tottenham boss impresses with passion

Spurs could’ve leveled the score in the 22nd minute as well, as Eriksen surprised with a back pass off a corner kick that Kyle Naughton lashed just wide.

Adebayor was off the corner flag to salute the home crowd as Eriksen continued his electric play by getting his mark on the wrong foot before serving a bounding ball that Adebayor pushed into the goal with his left hip. It was 1-1 in the 28th minute.

Eriksen was dangerous all half, and almost delighted the home crowd with a bending free kick in the 44th minute. The optical illusion was wide-enough to not be a true threat.

Tottenham could’ve earned a penalty kick in the 52nd minute, but Lee Mason didn’t adjudge Kane’s move to the turf to be worthwhile, and a corner was granted despite Carlos Cuellar stepping on the forward’s foot.

Kane’s first Premier League start did find the 20-year-old with a goal, though skipping past Brown to tap in another wonder cross from Eriksen.

Eriksen turned goal scorer in the 78th minute with a powerful low left-footer strike past Mannone to seal Sunderland’s fate.

Kane’s low shot slipped under Mannone in the 86th minute, and Adebayor tapped in the loose ball to make it 4-1. Another Mannone mishap in the penalty box gave Sigurdsson a goal-line gift to round out the scoring.

Milos Veljkovic, 18, made his Spurs debut with minutes to spare.

LINEUPS

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Naughton, Chiriches, Kaboul, Rose; Lennon (Townsend, 84′), Chadli (Sigurdsson, 84′), Paulinho (Veljkovic, 88′), Eriksen; Adebayor, Kane

Goals: Adebayor 2 (28, 86), Kane (59), Eriksen (78), Sigurdsson (90+2)

Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Alonso, Brown, Cuellar (Scocco, 72′), Vergini, Ki, Bridcutt, Cattermole (Gardner, 72′), Johnson, Borini

Goal: Cattermole (17)

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”

Report: China tempting TFC’s Giovinco with big offer

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Union during the first half of an MLS soccer playoff match in Toronto, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Could Sebastian Giovinco’s chances of another MVP award be diminishing?

It wouldn’t be on account of a lack of production, rather massive money coming his way from the Chinese Soccer League.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

Great, and right when we were daydreaming about how Toronto FC’s Italian attacker could run a revenge tour on the folks who somehow left him out of the MVP finalists last year.

Giovinco turns 30 on Thursday.

From The Toronto Sun’s Kurtis Larsson:

“The Chinese club seems to be very interested, but I don’t think it’ll be easy to take him away from Toronto,” Giovinco’s agent, Andrea D’Amico, told the broadcaster.

“We received an important offer from China and we’ll talk to Toronto to decide, along with Sebastian, what to do.”

Giovinco is with Toronto FC for preseason training camp, and both the club and player have shown no interest in moving on from the diminutive winger and 2015 MVP.

But if China comes calling with crazy money, say a $25-30 million transfer fee, shouldn’t TFC think twice? Any figure above $25 million would be more than the sum of the three biggest incoming transfer fees in MLS history (Miguel Almiron, Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe).

AFCON wrap: Ivory Coast bounced, DR Congo wins Group C

Congo's soccer players celebrate after scoring a goal against Togo during the African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match between Congo and Togo at the Stade de Port-Gentil, Gabon, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Down went another knockout round mainstay from the Africa Cup of Nations, as the Ivory Coast failed to capture one of the top two spots in Group C.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast

Needing a win to move on, the Ivory Coast fell in its final group match. Rachid Alioui scored a 64th minute goal that meant the Ivory Coast needed two to advance to the quarterfinals. The goals didn’t come, and Morocco will face the Group D winner next.

Togo 1-3 DR Congo

Junior Kabananga, Paul-Jose M’Poku, and Ndombe Mubele scored as the Leopards finished the group stage with an unbeaten record of 2-1. DR Congo will face the runner-up of Group D in the quarterfinals.

Wednesday’s matches

Ghana is through with six points, while Uganda is out. Egypt will go through with a result against Ghana, while Mali needs a win and an Egypt loss to get to tiebreakers.

Egypt vs. Ghana — 2 p.m. ET
Uganda vs. Mali — 2 p.m. ET