Keane hits right note to rescue Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur 1
The familiar strains of 'There's Only One Keano' were echoing around the Stadium of Light again yesterday evening, but it was the small pocket of Tottenham fans who burst into song rather than the Sunderland supporters who used to pay homage with that chant.
Those who travelled up to Wearside were left joyously celebrating Robbie Keane's goalscoring prowess following the final whistle at a ground where compatriot Roy Keane used to be hero-worshiped.
The Tottenham striker salvaged a point with an 89th-minute goal that showed why Spurs were so keen to bring him back from Liverpool. The Dubliner came to Tottenham's rescue just moments after referee Phil Dowd had ignored appeals for a Sunderland penalty. The visitors broke and Keane expertly finished off the counter-attack by smacking a first-time shot beyond Marton Fulop.
"I couldn't have wished it to have fallen to a better person than Robbie because he's a good finisher and he's earned us a vital point," Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said afterwards.
"I ended up with three at the back as we looked for a goal. There was always a chance Sunderland would break away and score but we had to go for it. We dominated the game from the third minute. We had all the possession but couldn't open the door. I was frustrated.
"We were camped in their half, but in the end we finally got what we deserved. I was starting to worry because there were only a couple of minutes left when Robbie popped up."
The match had just started when the Tottenham defence was caught off guard and Kieran Richardson stylishly took maximum advantage of fortuitous circumstances to put the hosts in front.
An excellent first touch saw him burst past Jonathan Woodgate when the ball looped up over the defender and he guided a firm shot past Heurelho Gomes. It was a turn of pace, purpose and assured finish similar to that which secured Richardson England recognition during his Manchester United days, and was reward for what he called a 'Rocky-style' training regime last summer.
However, Richardson went from hero to zero in manager Ricky Sbragia's eyes as he picked up his 10th caution this term, which will trigger a two-match ban.
"Kieran was running around like a headless chicken trying to get himself booked," Sbragia said. "He became undisciplined and sometimes we think we are bigger than the game.
"He was on nine bookings and we're going to lose him for a month now. He continued to get involved with the referee and continued to make harsh tackles. That didn't please me."
Sbragia, who admitted taking off Djibril Cisse because he "couldn't retain the ball" also had harsh words for left-back George McCartney.
"In the end we blew it," Sbragia added. "We got carried away and started losing our discipline. We should have taken a short corner to see out a bit of time but my left-back was in the box. I don't understand why -- his job is to defend and let the others get into to box.
"Tottenham threw caution to the wind and changed their system. We rode our luck and kept them at bay but for some reason shot ourselves in the foot for the third or fourth time at corners this season."