Tim Sherwood’s difficult day ended on a high as Tottenham hammered Sunderland 5-1 to put Gus Poyet’s beleaguered team deeper in the mire.
Tottenham head coach Sherwood was faced with yet more questions about his future in the build-up to Monday’s game after it was reported that he will be sacked at the end of the season.
The 45-year-old insisted it was “business as usual” ahead of the clash with bottom-of-the-table Sunderland, and his players responded with another fightback to secure a victory that moved them above Manchester United into sixth place in the Premier League table.
The London club came back from 2-0 down to beat Southampton in their last home game, and gave away a soft opener at White Hart Lane when Vlad Chiriches, returning after just over two months out through injury, gave the ball away and Lee Cattermole scored his first Sunderland goal.
Fit-again striker Emmanuel Adebayor has been a shining light under Sherwood and his 12th goal since the Englishman took over in December drew his side level, before Harry Kane marked his first Premier League start for the club with a goal to put the hosts in front.
The impressive Christian Eriksen set up the first two goals and then added a stylish effort of his own, before Adebayor’s second of the game and an injury-time strike from substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson added gloss to the scoreline and pushed Sunderland closer to the Championship.
Sherwood said ahead of the game that he did not expect talk of his future to affect his players and they certainly looked up for the battle in the opening stages.
Tottenham were knocking the ball around with confidence, but they were almost behind 13 minutes in when stand-in Sunderland skipper Wes Brown headed the recalled Adam Johnson’s inviting free-kick just wide.
The home side failed to heed the warning, though, and they gifted the visitors the lead three minutes later.
Chiriches appeared to panic when Hugo Lloris passed the ball out to him and the defender’s stray pass was picked up by Cattermole, who caught the France goalkeeper out with a measured right-foot finish from long range.
Adebayor also came close 23 minutes in, but it came as no surprise when Eriksen’s dangerous cross struck the former Arsenal striker six yards out and went in just four minutes later.
It was the visitors who had a spring in their step early in the second half, with Johnson pulling the strings, but Tottenham were in front when Kane repaid the faith put in him by Sherwood just before the hour, turning in another fine Eriksen cross from six yards out.
Eriksen then capped a fine individual performance in the 78th minute, as he let fly with a left-foot strike that deflected off Phil Bardsley and flew into the far corner of the net 12 minutes from time.
Kane and Adebayor then combined to add a fourth goal with five minutes remaining, with the Togo international on hand to turn the ball in after his young strike partner had been denied by Mannone.
And Sigurdsson took advantage of some poor Sunderland defending to finish off the scoring from close range in time added on to heap more misery on Poyet’s troubled side.
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