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)

Ballack acknowledges difficult decision ahead for John Terry

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For the better part of 19 years John Terry has been a staple of Chelsea’s backline.

[ WATCH: Zaha nets first international goal for Ivory Coast ]

With his future at Stamford Bridge becoming more and more in doubt though, it appears it’s time for the 36-year-old to move on from his longtime club, and that’s a decision that another former Chelsea player doesn’t envy.

[ MORE: Everton’s Coleman breaks leg on Ireland duty ]

Ex-Blues midfielder Michael Ballack knows that Terry has options, whether it be in Major League Soccer, the Chinese Super League or even with another Premier League club, but the German says it’s difficult because of what the centerback has meant to Chelsea.

“He is a player with that history and charisma,” Ballack, who spent four years with Chelsea during his playing days, told Sky Sports. “He’s such a Chelsea boy and they love him there.

“I know what it means if your career comes to an end and you’re getting older. You don’t know whether you extend your contract, play for another club or go abroad to America.

“I’m sure he has some options but if you think long-term, you have to feel comfortable with the decision.

For the first time in years, Terry has failed to establish himself as a first-team regular largely due to Antonio Conte‘s three-back system. The 36-year-old has appeared in just five PL matches this campaign, while making 10 appearances overall for the Blues, who currently sit atop England’s top flight and are in position to go for the double with the FA Cup semifinals lurking.

Terry himself has acknowledged that his career is nearing its end, but knowing the competitive drive that has made the Englishman great throughout his almost 20-year career, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll just give up his playing days without a fight.

Gabriel Jesus confident he’ll return for Man City this season

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Gabriel Jesus bursted onto the Manchester City scene upon arrival, but an injury back in February has left the talented Brazilian sidelined ever since.

[ MORE: Everton loses Coleman to leg break on Ireland duty ]

The lively attacker suffered a broken metatarsal last month against Bournemouth, which required surgery, but the 19-year-old remains confident that he’ll be able to feature again this season for the Citizens.

“I don’t know, I have no return prediction,” Jesus told SporTV. “But I hope I can still play some games this season.”

Initial thoughts were that Jesus would miss around three months, all but ending his first Premier League season. Now, Jesus is hoping that he’ll be able to pick up where he left off prior to the devastating injury.

“It’s good,” Jesus said on his road to recovery. “Thank God, the effort, not just mine, but from all the physiotherapists in Manchester, doctors and everyone. It was not easy for me.

“It’s my first injury. Not muscle injury, but it’s the first time something happens that leaves me out of games. So it was not easy.

“But I saw that, of course, no one wants this to happen, but it could be worse. So we operated soon, I decided to operate and give it time.”

In just his first four matches with Pep Guardiola‘s side, the young Brazilian netted three goals and even dethroned Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup.

CONCACAF chief Montagliani seeks World Cup entry for all co-hosts

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A joint-bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup is looking more and more possible, and CONCACAF chief Victor Montagliani believes that if that does happen then all co-hosts should be granted a spot in the tournament.

[ MORE: Making sense of USMNT’s emphatic win over Honduras ]

With FIFA president Gianni Infantino looking to finalize World Cup expansion plans from 32 to 48 teams over the coming weeks, it seems as though Montagliani’s hopes could become a reality for CONCACAF and other regions planning on creating multi-nation bids.

“I don’t think we should be dictating how a confederation allocates their slots from a hosting standpoint. That’s up to them,” Montagliani said.

FIFA will conduct its next meeting on Thursday when Infantino and all six confederation presidents meet in Zurich, Switzerland to decide on World Cup expansion, which Infantino has been adamant about since taking the reigns of soccer’s governing body.

2026 could play an important role for the United States, as it is seen as a critical piece in a joint-bid with Mexico and Canada to host the World Cup.

Additionally, Montagliani has hopes of making a combined Copa America with North and South America a permanent fixture after recently holding discussions with South America’s FIFA vice president Alejandro Dominguez.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Friday night’s massive USMNT victory ]

However, one area that would be left uncertain is the future of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is currently held every two years.

“If that is the case and we get that done, then we have to have a serious look — is it really tenable to have a Gold Cup?” said Montagliani, whose FIFA stakeholders panel faces tough talks on adding and subtracting dates when clubs must release players on international dates.

“Do we really need it [the Gold Cup]?” he suggested. “Is it just clogging the calendar for the players?”

Lukaku coy on Everton future, says “decision has already been made”

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Romelu Lukaku has made it no secret that he hopes to play Champions League football, and reality may be setting in that the opportunity to do so won’t come at Everton.

[ MORE: Everton loses Coleman to leg break during Ireland match ]

While the Belgium international hasn’t dealt his hand in regards to his future at Goodison Park, it seems as though the Toffees could be losing out on keeping their star striker.

[ MORE: UEFA qualifying roundup — Wales in trouble, Buffon hits 1000 ]

Last month, agent Mino Raiola claimed that Lukaku’s deal with the English side was 99.9 percent complete, however, the 23-year-old has still yet to ink a new contract.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s UEFA World Cup qualifier against Greece, Lukaku says that his future plans are already made up.

“The decision has already been made so I can’t talk about that,” Lukaku said of his future at Everton.

The former Anderlecht standout has had nothing but success since joining Everton, first on loan and then making a permanent transfer from Chelsea in 2014. Over the combined stints, Lukaku has bagged 83 goals in all competitions for the Toffees, but the young attacker says there’s nothing wrong with having “ambition.”

“There is nothing wrong with ambition. You have to embrace it and where you are as a footballer,” Lukaku said. “I’ve made a long way until now but the road is still long and I know I have to improve and get better. I want to help Everton as much as I can, as well as the national team. I think a lot of stuff can be achieved.

“Sometimes people will mistake things that I say but it’s just ambition that I have; I want to win titles and trophies and I don’t think people should take that as arrogance — people should embrace it.

“This is what footballers need to achieve if they want to become the best, and I think young kids need to learn that too.”