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.
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.
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.
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)