Harry Kane was the match-winner as Tottenham saw persistence rewarded in a 1-0 Premier League win over struggling 10-man Sunderland.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side were relentless in their quest to bounce back from Wednesday’s false start in the Champions League against Monaco at Wembley, although 19 first-half shots amid home comforts at White Hart Lane went unrewarded.
Son Heung-min hit the post before the break and shot wastefully into the side-netting afterwards, but Kane found the breakthrough from close range – the England striker’s second goal in as many league matches following a nine-game drought for club and country.
A shambolic contribution from Papy Djilobodji on the winner undermined a tireless defensive effort from Sunderland, although their prospects of an equaliser appeared slim even before Adnan Januzaj’s avoidable 90th-minute red card.
David Moyes is the latest manager who has failed to shift the north-east club’s tendency to start at a snail’s pace and, with one point from five matches, they are one of two winless sides in the top flight along with bottom club Stoke City.
By contrast, Spurs lie third behind the other two undefeated teams after five matches – Manchester City and Everton – although the sight of Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier and Kane limping off during the close stages soured Pochettino’s afternoon.
Dembele was back in the Tottenham side after a six-game domestic suspension, while Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela dropped to the bench following the 2-1 Champions League loss in midweek.
Didier Ndong and Jason Denayer made full debuts for Sunderland, although the latter was only included after Moyes lost full-back Patrick van Aanholt during the warm-up.
Moussa Sissoko flashed an angled fourth-minute shot wide on his first Spurs start, while the hosts enjoyed early joy down the flanks and Jordan Pickford made a sharp reaction save to deny Kane after Son whipped in a dangerous ball from the left.
The opening exchanges suggested Sunderland keeper Pickford should bed in for a busy afternoon and he was well placed to hold Toby Alderweireld’s header from a 15th-minute corner after turning a Kane effort behind.
Jermain Defoe chased a Pickford clearance to call Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris into action midway through the half before Son and Sissoko had shots blocked and Victor Wanyama dragged one wide on a frantic Tottenham attack.
The lively Son cut inside Denayer, who was enduring a tough baptism at right-back, to thud a shot against the base of Pickford’s near post in the 39th minute and Sunderland nervily survived a flurry of corners.
Remarkably, the visitors should have led at the break but Steven Pienaar picked out Kyle Walker on the goalline from Januzaj’s cutback.
Spurs were back on the front foot in the second period and Son should have done better than lashing into the side-netting after Dembele released him in the area.
When the goal arrived for Kane it was practically gift-wrapped, with Dele Alli knocking down a Walker cross that Djilobodji made a complete hash of clearing to leave the England man with a tap-in.
Pickford, who hesitated under the high ball when Spurs broke through, got down well to his left to deny Alli, with Dier firing wide from the resulting set-piece.
Sunderland’s toothlessness in attack meant they were ill-placed to take advantage of Tottenham’s unfortunate late flurry of injuries, with Januzaj’s second booking for a late challenge on Ben Davies completing a forgettable trip to the capital.
Key Opta stats:
– Harry Kane has scored in three of his four Premier League appearances against Sunderland at White Hart Lane.
– The Black Cats are without a clean sheet at White Hart Lane in any of their last 21 league visits there since a goalless draw in September 1980.
– Sunderland haven’t won any of their last 24 Premier League matches contested in either August or September (D9 L15).
– This is the fourth consecutive season that Sunderland have failed to win any of their opening five Premier League games.
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