Christian Eriksen scored twice as Tottenham came from behind to beat Premier League strugglers Sunderland 4-1 at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
A draw at Everton and a midweek defeat to Leicester City had dampened talk of a Spurs title tilt but Eriksen benefited from two touches of fortune to haunt Sunderland again while Mousa Dembele and Harry Kane also helped end the visitors' mini-revival.
Separated by 14 spots prior to kick-off, 18th-placed Sunderland withstood long spells of Spurs pressure before Patrick van Aanholt scored for the second time this week to break the deadlock against the run of play 40 minutes in.
Spurs were level before half-time, however, as Lee Cattermole failed to clear Eriksen's effort on the line. The Denmark international has now scored in all four Premier League meetings with Sunderland and, as Sam Allardyce's strugglers began to fade, Dembele marked his return to the starting XI by putting Spurs in front for the first time.
A fortuitous deflection off debutant Jan Kirchhoff handed Eriksen a second 23 minutes from time and the debutant's clumsy foul on Danny Rose allowed Kane to round off the scoring from the spot as Mauricio Pochettino's men recorded their first league win of 2016.
Making his first Premier League start in north London, Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford tipped Kane's strike wide four minutes in as Spurs began strongly.
Dele Alli - fresh from agreeing a new contract in midweek - sent an effort over the crossbar after a fortuitous deflection off Rose's strike before a wayward Billy Jones clearance threatened to allow Kane in again.
Pickford was alert to the danger and while the hosts continued to apply pressure through the likes of Kane and Erik Lamela, Sunderland took the lead five minutes before the break.
Adam Johnson's wonderful pass allowed Van Aanholt to finish at the near post and hand the visitors what proved a short-lived lead.
Just two minutes later, Pickford denied Kane one-on-one, only for Eriksen to divert the rebound on target with Cattermole unable to clear it off the line - instead turning the ball into his own net.
Eriksen was initially denied a second when Pickford tipped the Dane's long-range effort wide on the stroke of half-time before, after the break, Sunderland went close when former Spurs favourite Jermain Defoe found the side-netting after a quick break.
After Kirchhoff was introduced, Kane and Rose both tested Pickford but the young goalkeeper could do little about either Dembele or Eriksen's strikes.
After Rose's effort was palmed away, the Belgian - one of three Spurs changes from the defeat to Leicester in midweek - cut inside and ghosted past Jones and Jack Rodwell before finding Pickford's bottom left-hand corner.
As Sunderland's hopes of taking anything back to Wearside faded, Eriksen made the most of the space afforded to him to unleash a strike that found the top corner via a deflection of Kirchhoff's leg.
And the former Bayern Munich man rounded off a difficult introduction to Premier League life by fouling Rose, Kane converting from the spot to maintain Spurs' top-four ambitions.
Key Opta stats:
- Tottenham Hotspur have won nine and lost none of their last 12 Barclays Premier League games against Sunderland (D3).
- Christian Eriksen has netted more goals against Sunderland in the Premier League than versus any other opponent (5).
- Mousa Dembélé now has three PL goals this season, equalling his best goalscoring tally in a single PL season (three in 2010-11 for Fulham).
- Harry Kane has now scored 11 goals in his last 13 Premier League appearances.
- Each of Sunderland's three goalkeepers (Pantilimon, Mannone & Pickford) have conceded exactly four goals in their first Premier League appearance of 2015-16.
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