LONDON, November 9 – Spurs missed the chance to gain ground on the Premier League's leading pack on Tuesday after a defensive blunder saw them drop points in a 1-1 draw with Sunderland.
Harry Redknapp’s side looked to have done enough to secure an important victory at White Hart Lane after Dutch international Rafael Van der Vaart fired Spurs into the lead on 65 minutes.
But Spurs’s lead was to last only two minutes when a piece of comedy defending gifted an equaliser to Sunderland.
An innocuous aerial pass caused confusion between French centre-halves Younes Kaboul and William Gallas, who both left the ball alone allowing Ghana World Cup star Asamoah Gyan to pounce.
Tempers flared shortly afterwards when Sunderland hardman Lee Cattermole sent Spurs playmaker Luka Modric crumpling to the turf, earning the midfielder a booking.
Boos rang out amongst frustrated Spurs supporters as the match finished deadlocked.
The result left Spurs in sixth place in the standings after 12 games, nine points behind league leaders Chelsea and four points adrift of Manchester City, who occupy the fourth Champions League qualifying spot.
Sunderland are just behind Spurs in seventh, level on points and goal difference but trailing by virtue of fewer goals scored.
In Tuesday’s other game, Stoke ended their four-match losing streak in an entertaining 3-2 victory over Birmingham at the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke looked to have squandered a certain three points after Birmingham fought back from 2-0 down in the second half.
But a winner five minutes from time by Dean Whitehead sealed maximum points for the Potters, who moved up to 15th place. The loss left Birmingham hovering just above the relegation zone in 17th.
Stoke had taken the lead on the stroke of half-time, skipper Robert Huth lashing in from close range after a Ricardo Fuller shot had cannoned off two Birmingham defenders.
The Potters looked to be cruising to victory midway through the second half when Fuller curled in a superb shot from distance to make it 2-0.
But Fuller’s strike was the signal for a spirited Birmingham fightback. Kevin Fahey pulled one back for the Blues, slamming in from 18 yards and two minutes later Birmingham were level.
An exquisite Sebastian Larsson cross to the far post was met by Cameron Jerome, rising high to glance in past Asmir Begovic.
Yet just when Birmingham had clawed their way back into the game, Whitehead struck to ease the pressure on Stoke boss Tony Pulis.