Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland - Premier League

Three things we learned from Tottenham’s win vs. Sunderland

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LONDON, England — Following Tottenham’s 5-1 demolition job of Sunderland on Monday night, Spurs have kept their top four dreams alive.

Just.

Tim Sherwood’s side scored three goals late on, as Sunderland’s early lead evaporated when Tottenham piled on the pressure. It was an impressive all round display from the home side, especially as their manager has been under intense pressure in the last few days.

Here’s a gander at three things we learned.

Spurs need to build their team around Christian Eriksen

The little man from Denmark, he can play a bit. With Spurs 1-0 down and struggling to get a grip on the game early on, Eriksen came to life as he set up two goals and terrorized Sunderland’s defense. He cut in from the left flank to tee up Emmanuel Adebayor and Harry Kane, before smashing in a delightful shot himself. On this form, the 22-year-old playmaker Spurs signed from Ajax last summer is the real deal. It has taken him a while to get adjusted to the Premier League, but as the end of the season nears, Eriksen’s magic is there for all to see. If Sherwood is given a chance to rebuild Tottenham’s squad, which is unlikely, then he should build his team around Eriksen. Whoever is in charge of Spurs for the long run, Eriksen should be the talisman the North London club are built around.

source: AP
Sherwoo’d passion for the game seeps through in his management style.

Sherwood’s passion an inspiration

When Vlad Chiriches inexplicably gave the ball away on the edge of Tottenham’s box after 17 minutes, which caught goalkeeper Hugo Lloris out of position and allowed Lee Cattermole to slot the ball home, you feared the worst for Spurs. But reminiscent of their manager’s gritty persona, Spurs dug in and turned things around. Swearing on the sidelines, ranting and raving at the referee, turning around to the home fans and asking them to “f****** encourage” players instead of having a go, Sherwood was on top form.

(MORE: Sherwood unfazed by speculation, as Spurs boss impresses with passion)

At one point he ran to the press seats and grabbed a TV so he could see a penalty appeal. Laughing and joking, he looked like a bloke he knew his days are numbered, if you believe reports, as manager at White Hart Lane. But he’s going to go out with a smile on his face. His players laugh and joke along with him, and when Adebayor scored his second, he ran to Sherwood to salute him. Sherwood saluted him back with a smile on his face. No matter if the former Spurs skipper is given the boot or stays on after this summer, his passion is infectious and is one of his biggest assets.

Black Cats in freefall

Monday’s defeat to Tottenham was Sunderland’s fourth in a row, as they are now without a win in nine games since they beat neighbors Newcastle United. Speaking after the game Gus Poyet lambasted his side after a performance riddled with mistakes.

“We cannot defend, we cannot make decisions, we cannot cope with one vs. one’s, we cannot pass the ball, we cannot have a shot on target. There are so many things that we cannot do.”

It’s hard to argue with him. The fiery Uruguayan saw his players squander an early gift, as they led 1-0 after 17 minutes, but despite a few flashes of brilliance from Fabio Borini in the first half, the Black Cats were totally second best as their race against relegation is running out of time. Rock bottom with seven games to go, Sunderland are seven points from safety and now face Everton, Man City and Chelsea in their next three. If they get nothing from those, it could well be ‘bye, bye’ Black Cats. If it isn’t already.

WATCH: Kane’s first half hat trick includes gorgeous volley

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City at White Hart Lane stadium in London, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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Harry Kane spent the first half hour of Sunday’s tilt versus Stoke torturing the visiting Potters.

Kane opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Christian Eriksen bobbled Dele Alli‘s pass into the 18, but Ryan Shawcross‘ barely hit his clearance and Kane took a touch before belting home for the advantage.

[ WATCH: Spurs-Stoke live, replay ]

His second was lovely, bounding a low volley between the legs of Victor Wanyama and by a diving Lee Grant.

The third carried a bit of luck, with his low free kick taking a turn off the leg of wall end Peter Crouch to elude a lunging Grant. 3-0.

Here are the first and third, too:

Liverpool, Southampton lead EFL Cup Team of the Tournament

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The EFL Cup has named its team of the tournament ahead of Sunday morning’s final between Southampton and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.

Liverpool and Southampton lead the way with two players each, while finalists Manchester United have just one player in the team.

[ MORE: Whitecaps acquire Brek Shea ]

That’s Ander Herrera, who joins a midfield with Sofiane Boufal (Saints), Mohamed Diame (Newcastle United), and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal).

Up top are Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, the latter for his work at Bristol City.

The back four is led by Saints’ Maya Yoshida and Hull City’s Harry Maguire, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) and Matty Pearson (Accrington Stanley) joining the unit.

The backstop is Leeds United’s Marco Silvestri.

Watch Live: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City (Lineups, Stream)

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Wifried Bony of Stoke City and Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur battle for possession during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur at Britannia Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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The penultimate Premier League match of the weekend pits Stoke City against third-place Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Jan Vertonghen is back alongside Toby Alderweireld in the heart of Spurs’ back line, and it’s no surprise that PL Download stars Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris also start.

Geoff Cameron‘s four-month layoff appears to be reaching its end, as the USMNT back is on the subs bench for Stoke City. He last played on Oct. 22.

LINEUPS

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Son, Janssen.

Stoke City: Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Arnautovic, Allen, Ramadan; Crouch. Subs: Given; Muniesa, Berahino, Afellay, Diouf, Cameron, Imbula.

Sydney FC return to winning ways in A-League

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24:  Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic of Sydney FC makes a save as Bruno Fornaroli of City competes for the ball during the round 21 A-League match between Melbourne City and Sydney FC at AAMI Park on February 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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SYDNEY (AP) Bobo scored twice as Sydney FC rebounded from its first loss in the A-League to beat Melbourne City 3-1 and continue atop the table.

[ MORE: Schmeichel speaks about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester ]

Sydney’s ambitious attempt to become the first team to end the regular season unbeaten came unstuck last week when it was beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers in a fractious local derby, repercussions of which continued through the week. Wanderers were fined $20,000 by Football Federation Australia after its fans unfurled an obscene banner targeting Sydney coach Graham Arnold.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten run in Saturday’s PL play ]

Sydney raised itself above that controversy on Friday with a comprehensive win over Melbourne City which briefly took it 11 points clear in first place.

Melbourne Victory restored the gap to eight points when it beat defending champion Adelaide United 2-1, and Perth leapfrogged Melbourne City into third place when it dumped the Wanderers 2-0.

Bobo opened Sydney’s scoring with a penalty, but City canceled that out only a minute later.

Sydney went in front again after the break, and Bobo sealed the win, set up by a superb through ball by Milos Ninkovic which highlighted their developing combination.

Midfielder Brandon O’Neil said Sydney was determined to leave behind the contention of their derby loss.

“When it all came out, the FFA and Western Sydney had to deal with it and it did,” O’Neil said. “It brought us together and we spoke about a few things, and nothing changed for us. We want to be premier (champions).”

Melbourne Victory’s win over Adelaide kept it in touch with Sydney with seven regular season rounds remaining.

Wellington kept its faint playoff hopes alive, staying in seventh place with a 2-1 win over Brisbane.