Full time: Sunderland 1-2 Spurs
Spurs move to third in the table, for 24 hours at least. They played some terrific football and should really have won 4-1 or 5-1. AVB out! Sunderland didn't do that much wrong; they were just outplayed by a better team. Thanks for your emails. Bye.
90+3 min Wickham's shot is blocked by Dawson at the expense of a corner. Johnson curls it in, and Lloris is fouled by Fletcher.
90+1 min There will be five minutes of added time. Sunderland fans appeal for handball, and a penalty, when a bouncing ball hits Sandro in the face.
90 min Gareth Bale is booed off the field, tedious nonsense really, and replaced by Gylfi Sigurdsson. He has been vaguely majestic today.
88 min "Highlight of the year?" says Raymond Starke. "Every Spurs goal celebration of AVB! Honest, pure, simple...and full of adrenaline!" His celebration when they won at Old Trafford was great.
87 min Spurs are reminded of the precariousness of their lead. Sessegnon moves the ball to Johnson on the left, and his excellent low cross is cleared with indecent calmness by Naughton on the six-yard line.
86 min Bale, who is now being booed, crunches a 20-yard into the body of Mignolet. Spurs have played some scintillating stuff today; it's ludicrous that they are only one ahead.
85 min Scott Parker has come on for Aaron Lennon. Bale will miss the New Year's Day game against Reading.
84 min The more I think about that penalty appeal, the more I think the referee could have given a penalty and booked Bale for exaggerating the impact.
82 min Adebayor, put through on goal by a brilliant backheel from Dempsey, is denied again by Mignolet. That was a fine save with his left foot – he charged from goal to narrow the angle – although again Adebayor should probably have given him no chance.
81 min Gareth Bale has been booked for diving again. This is a tricky one to call. Gardner tried to pull his foot away from the challenge, on the left of the area, but his knee certainly clashed with Bale's knee. Was that enough to knock Bale over, given the speed at which he runs? Probably. I reckon Bale made a bit too much of it, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a foul. It's pretty difficult to call.
80 min Sunderland make their final substitution, with Connor Wickham replacing Seb Larsson. Presumably Sessegnon will drop into midfield.
78 min Gardner's admirable endeavour leads to a free-kick on the right wing for Sunderland, with Dembele booked for pulling him back. It's swung in by Johnson – inswing is totally the new inswing – and Lloris does pretty well to flap it away for a corner under significant pressure. At least I think it was him; the commentators are suggesting it was the head of Adebayor. Either way, the corner comes to nothing.
77 min Spurs have some extremely good runners with the ball. All four of their midfielders can go past a man, which is pretty rare.
76 min A Spurs substitution: Clint Dempsey replaces Jermain Defoe, who was sharp but should have scored. Dempsey will drop in behind Adebayor.
75 min "Kyle Naughton is being understatedly brilliant again," says Aidy Shaw. "Solid, assured, and soon an England fixture, surely."
74 min Another ludicrous surge from Bale ends with a crisp cut back to Defoe on the edge of the box, a ball that Spurs play a lot. The attack fizzles out.
73 min Sunderland are having a decent spell, with Spurs perhaps subconsciously sitting on a 2-1. I have no idea why teams do that. Given that it's a subconscious thing, nor do they I guess.
72 min Dawson gives away another free-kick. This one is about 30 yards from goal, in a narrow position just left of centre. Larsson overhits it this time and Lloris again punches clear.
71 min "For someone who seems like a lovely bloke," says Steve Waterhouse, "Niall Quinn's Sunderland bias is almost uncomfortable to listen to..."
At least he's not like that when he commentates on Manchester City eh.
70 min "Toure and AN Other?" sniffs Richard Williams. "Who might AN Other be then? Barry? Garcia? Milner, maybe? I really hope the Prem's best centre-mid pairing features none of those three, otherwise reports of the decline of The Best League In The World are greatly understated. Surely team-of-the-season-so-far West Brom's Yacob and Morrison warrant a mention?"
Everyone knows the Premier League is quite rubbish at the moment, don't they? If they don't know, they will when there are no English teams in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in 18 years (I think).
69 min Dawson is booked for a foul down the Sunderland left. It's in Larsson territory again, but this time Lloris punches away emphatically under pressure. Excellent goalkeeping.
68 min O'Shea pays the price for breaking into a sprint: he has done his hamstring and is about to be replaced by Titus Bramble.
66 min "Seeing as we're talking about highlights of the year," says Simon McMahon, "I wonder if Martin O'Neill is actually in the middle of doing the Gangnam Style dance in your picture?"
65 min It looks like Johnson has gone to left wing, with McClean in central midfield and Campbell right wing. It's a kind of 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 formation.
63 min "A bit predictable, my highlight," says Brad McMillan. "Zlatan's volley against England, mainly because it's nice, occasionally, to see a man with a huge superiority complex and outrageous arrogance actually live up to his own hype. It felt like rooting for the baddies in a film."
Zlatan would make a belting Bond villain.
62 min A Sunderland substitution: Fraizer Campbell is on for Matt Kilgallon, so Jack Colback will go to left back.
60 min What a staggering save from Mignolet! Bale slipped Larsson supremely, 15 yards inside his own half, and set off on a storming, winding run all the way to the edge of the Sunderland area. It was real Bionic Man stuff. He eventually squared it to Defoe, a little off balance six yards from goal, and his stabbed shot was somehow clawed away by Mignolet. It was a bit like the Lloris save in the first half; he was almost horizontal but somehow managed to lift his hands high enough to make the save. Defoe should have given him no chance though.
58 min "Highlight of the year?" says Matt Dony. "Liverpool's new kit deal. Cheers, Kenny, you can't put a price on that kind of success. Unfortunately, one of my lowlights is Liverpool's black, white and swirls away kit. Awful."
57 min Spurs look much the better side, as they have for the last 30 minutes or so.
55 min "Re your earlier question about the importance of Dembele and Sessegnon, from the Sunderland perspective you're certainly right," says Charles Marshall. "Sessegnon is the one who makes us tick. He can lay the ball off to the wide men or turn and run at defenders, he's a real handful. When he's out of sorts we're nowhere near as good."
54 min A sharp low shot from Johnson, 20 yards from goal, is palmed away at the near post by the diving Lloris. That's a decent save because it would have sneaked in at the near post, just as it did against Manchester City the other day.
GOAL! Sunderland 1-2 Spurs (Lennon 51)
A fine goal from Aaron Lennon gives Spurs the lead. He had wandered infield and tried to play a ball out wide to the right which hit a defender before rebounding back infield. Lennon reacted the quickest: he touched the loose ball one side of Cuellar, ran round the other, and then swept the ball confidently past Mignolet from 12 yards with the inside of his right foot. Kilgannon slid in desperately but Lennon's pace enabled him to get their first.
GOAL! Sunderland 1-1 Spurs (Cuellar og 48)
Cuellar completes an outstanding two minutes by scoring an own goal. He was in front of the near post as he leapt for an inswinging corner from the left from Walker; it flicked off his head and flew into the net before Mignolet could react.
47 min Cuellar is booked for a sliding challenge on Lennon.
47 min "That save from Lloris was absolutely top drawer," says Prateek Chadha. "Sadly all too often when the keeper makes a great save and the rebound is knocked in because the defence was slow to react, the keeper doesn't get the credit he deserves."
Indeed. This is the ultimate example of that, one of the best saves I've ever seen.
46 min We're off.
"Surely," says David Flynn, "everyone having an argument with a stranger on Twitter is a moron?" Some would say the 'having an argument with a stranger' bit is superfluous.
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Half-time: Sunderland 1-0 Spurs
Spurs shouldn't be behind, but they are. See you in 10 minutes.
45+1 min Defoe dives risibly on the edge of the box. That was utterly pathetic, and he should have been booked.
45 min There will be two additional minutes of Spurs possession.
43 min Spurs have been much the better team, it's true, but Mignolet has only had one significant save to make. Sunderland have defended well, if a little desperately at times.
41 min "Sandro and Dembele or Arteta and Wilshere (& Cazorla)?" says Andrew Hurley. If you were picking just the deeper two, I might go for the Spurs pair, although I wouldn't call you a moron on Twitter for arguing the opposite.
GOAL! Sunderland 1-0 Spurs (O'Shea 40)
40 min Walker clambers all over Sessegnon, a startlingly moronic piece of defending that gives Sunderland a free kick on the left wing, 23 yards from goal. Larsson hits such dangerous inswingers from this position – and he's done it again! It was an awesome ball in, hit with pace, curl and dip into the corridor between defenders and goalkeeper. Undefendable, basically. Dawson, running back towards his own goal, tried to head it clear but was surrounded and his header hit a Sunderland player before falling for Fletcher on the left of the six-yard box. His shot was blocked outstandingly by Lloris, who stretched high above his head as the rest of his body was on the way down; the loose ball feel for O'Shea, who finished serenely from six yards. That's his first goal for Sunderland.
38 min Johnson's inswinging free-kick from the right is helped on cleverly by the head of Cuellar, 16 yards from goal, and it lands on the roof of the net. I think Lloris had it covered, although the desperate manner in which he backpedalled suggests he wasn't so sure.
38 min Sandro and Dembele is a seriously good midfield partnership. You could even argue they're the best in the league, although I suppose Yaya Toure and A.N. Other would be above them.
37 min See 34 minutes.
36 min Sandro, a dominant influence in this game, surges forward from midfield and finds Defoe on the right side of the box. His fierce cross-shot is well blocked.
35 min "Re: the entry after 15 mins," says Matt Dony. "Maybe the freshness just doesn't last as long as advertised. Boom! (Didn't really deserve a 'Boom!', did it?)"
34 min How are Spurs not ahead? They have battered Sunderland in the last 10 minutes.
32 min "Footballing highlights of 2012 surely cannot be complete with mentioning the on- and off-field exploits of the one and only Mario Balotelli," says David Flynn. "In this world of media-trained, never-put-forward-an-actual-opinion banality, the sheer don't-give-a-crap attitude of Mario is something to savour."
Balotelli was great until he started trying a bit too hard; now his antics often feel pre-planned. He's still more entertaining than most, of course, and English football will be poorer when he does one.
30 min Adebayor hits the bar! This was a comedy of errors. Defoe, on the left side of the box, tried to Thierryhenry one into the far corner. He mishit it towards Cuellar, waiting on the six-yard box; he miskicked his clearance completely, and then Adebayor slammed the loose ball against the bar from only three or four yards. It was awkward in the sense that Mignolet was diving across him, so he had to try to get the ball over or under the keeper, but it was still a very bad miss.
29 min This is a great spell for Spurs. Lennon skins McClean in the box and stands up a cross towards Bale, 10 yards from goal. He had to run away from goal to meet the ball, and flicked a looping header wide of the near post. If he had been coming onto the ball he would probably have scored.
27 min "Traditionally, Sunderland have a one minute silence before the last home game of every calendar year in order to remember anyone connected with the club (and the day's opponents) who passed away that year," says Carol Horniman. "Spurs will have given them a list of names to be read out alongside the Sunderland ones."
25 min Spurs win two corners on the right in quick succession. The second is swung in by Bale and beaten away assertively by Mignolet. That should have launched a Sunderland counter-attack, but McClean lost possession by the halfway line and Spurs were able to launch a counter-counter-attack. A neat through pass from Lennon (I think) put Adebayor through on goal in the inside-left channel, 15 yards from goal. He tried to flick it past the advancing Mignolet, who spread himself to make a good save. That was the best chance so far.
24 min "Highlight of 2012," says Niall Mullen. "Their goalkeeper looked fired-up. I thought: 'now I give him the spoon'."
22 min "Congratulations on being my Second Favourite MBM Officiator of 2012!" says Ryan Dunne, who knows the way to a boy's heart. "Re: football highlights. It's not been the best year for the Glorious Glasgow Rangers, alas, (mad props for the Beattie penalty against Celtic tho), but surely any neutral's got to have Pirlo's Panenka against England and Chelsea's logic-defying march to European Glory (come on, Barcelona are a bit 2010 hipster) up there? I'll hazard a guess that Aguero's 93rd-minute winner on the last day of the season won't be in your own personal highlights reel."
21 min Sunderland are playing some nice stuff. They look like a group of players who have suddenly remembered that football can be fun as well as a job.
20 min Sandro's crisp, low 20-yard shot takes a slight deflection and is fumbled by Mignolet, who gets to his feet and claims the loose ball before any Spurs forwards can get there.
18 min A booming, inswinging cross from McClean drifts beyond the far post, where the sliding Johnson does superbly to slip it back across the face of the six-yard box with the outside of his left foot. It would have been a tap-in for someone, except no Sunderland players were there and a Spurs defender was able to hoof it away.
17 min "Was the minute of silence for those connected to the city or the club?" says Colin Flint. "If the former, what next, a minute of silence at Old Trafford for all those who passed away in the Home Counties?"
Grief and outrage are England's two favourite sports these days.
15 min Second-season-syndrome's James McClean beasts a cross straight into Lloris's hands. Sunderland look lively going forward.
14 min A scruffy few minutes. Caulker almost hoofs a clearance out of the ground.
13 min To an outsider it seems that the fortunes of these clubs are determined to an inordinate degree by the form and fitness of Sessegnon and Dembele. Is that fair?
11 min "Cheers Rob," says Nick Thorp. "'The death of quality journalism', perhaps?"
Can the same thing die more than once? (Apparently the minute's silence was for those connected with Sunderland who died in 2012.)
9 min "It's awfully difficult to pinpoint my highlight of 2012," says JR in Illinois. "For sheer amazement Tony Watt's game winning goal for Celtic against Barcelona may take it. The others that come immediately to mind are the final day of the Premier League and Spain's 4-0 schooling of Italy in the Euro final."
8 min It's been a decent start from both sides. Spurs in particular look slick and menacing when Bale and Defoe are in possession.
7 min "I missed the explanation of why they had a minute's silence at the start," says Nick Thorp, "and you frustratingly don't mention it in the commentary! Help me out..."
No idea. Hope this helps!
5 min Sunderland win a free-kick 25 yards from goal, slightly right of centre. Gardner slashes across a shot that takes a slight deflection off the jumping Defoe and whizzes straight through to Lloris.
4 min Bale slips Gardner with a delicious piece of skill down the left. He runs to the edge of the box and then squares the ball to Adebayor, whose tame sidefoot is easily saved by Mignolet. He was off balance as he shot.
2 min "While nothing speaks louder than success," says Jezz, "does anyone feel that AVB is selling out on the 4-3-3 I was looking forward to this year by reverting to the pie-and-a-pint 4-4-2?"
It's been pretty exhilarating at times, hasn't it? I haven't seen enough of Spurs to know, but what's happened with Dempsey and Sigurdsson?
1 min We're off. Spurs are in navy blue/purple; Sunderland in red and white. Sunderland are the home side, yes, so I've no idea why I mentioned Spurs first.
So what was your football highlight of 2012?
Team news, lifted with nary a moment's guilt from the news wires
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas rotated his defenders once again as he looked for a second successive away victory at Sunderland.
Jan Vertonghen was named only among the substitutes and William Gallas was not included in the 18 at all as Michael Dawson, who was named captain, and Steven Caulker returned to the starting line-up.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill made a single change with the ineligible Danny Rose making way for John O'Shea on his return from the illness which kept him out of the Boxing Day victory over champions Manchester City.
Sunderland (4-2-3-1) Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O'Shea, Kilgallon;
Larsson, Colback; Johnson, Sessegnon, McClean; Fletcher.
Subs: Westwood, Campbell, Wickham, McFadden, Vaughan, Ji, Bramble.
Spurs (4-4-2) Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Naughton; Lennon,
Sandro, Dembele, Bale; Adebayor, Defoe.
Subs: Friedel, Dempsey, Vertonghen, Huddlestone, Parker, Sigurdsson, Livermore.
Whistling gentleman Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
When it comes to nostalgia, society tends to suffer from short-term memory loss. It doesn't make much sense. If you can be wistful for that good thing wot happened 12 years ago, why shouldn't you be wistful for that good thing wot happened 12 months ago?
Sunderland fans might be in the minority who are towards such short-term nostalgia as they stomp towards the Stadium of Light this afternoon. A year ago, they beat Manchester City 1-0 during the Christmas period, a victory that sparked one of the better spells in their recent history, a run of eight wins in 11 games during which they were one of the best teams in the country. They will hope that the 1-0 win over City on xxxday (nobody remembers the actual day of the week over Christmas) will have a similar impact.
The general perception is that Sunderland have had a diabolical season. They have been comatose for much of 2012-13, it's true, yet they are 13th, above Newcastle and only three points behind Liverpool. The same is true of Spurs, whose achievement is also not commensurate with discourse.
There has been a lot of whinging, much of it about Andre Villas-Boas and his foreign stylings, yet they are where they want to be: in the top four, albeit only on goals scored. It has still been a slightly odd season for them, a mixture of rousing victories and exasperating non-victories. Which will it be today?