Tottenham's hopes of a top-four Premier League finish remain in the balance after a goalless draw at Sunderland.

In normal circumstances, a point at Martin O'Neill's resurgent side would be praiseworthy, but in Tottenham's position it represents a minor setback.

Spurs began the game brightly, but the home side neutralised the match, resulting in few clear-cut chances.

O'Neill satisfied with point

The best of them fell to Rafael van der Vaart, whose two goal-bound shots were blocked by Sunderland defenders.

After spending much of the season being touted as the sole opposition to a Mancunian monopoly of the title-race, Tottenham have endured a month of suggestions that their top-four challenge was crumbling.

Last week's 3-1 win over Swansea arrested a pointless five-game slump, but their inability to take all three points at the Stadium of Light leaves them with little room for error during their remaining seven-game run-in.

Harry Redknapp's team began purposefully, zipping passes around neatly in midfield and looking every inch the likely winners.

However, as the old adage goes, you have to capitalise when you are on top and barring a Benoit Assou-Ekotto 20-yard strike that flew past the far post and a Luka Modric shot on the turn, home keeper Simon Mignolet was not tested.

Redknapp happy with Tottenham clean sheet

Sunderland are a tough proposition under Martin O'Neill, particularly at home, where they had lost only one in eight heading into this game. Only Manchester United and Manchester City have earned more points in games since the Northern Irishman's appointment.

The Black Cats rallied, got a better grip on the movement of the Spurs midfield and, from then on, there was little to choose between the teams in an 80-minute war of attrition.

As the team in greater need of a win, Tottenham were more proactive, but they were unable to break down the home side.

Van der Vaart saw a decent chance blocked by Matt Kilgallon and then an even better one by Michael Turner, possibly with his arm, before Gareth Bale headed onto the roof of the net.

"Both managers might reflect that this was a good point. It wasn't a great game with very few chances. Spurs tried to inject some urgency just as Sunderland tried to take it away. The best chances fell to Spurs but in truth this was not a thriller."

Sunderland could have snatched something on the break, but Spurs defender Kyle Walker prevented James McClean from converting a Sebastian Larsson cross at the back post.

Tottenham may well look back on this as a point gained, but for now it represents an unsatisfactory reward from a frustrating afternoon.

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill:

"We weren't going to allow them to come here and pick up three points. We had some chances ourselves.

"While we didn't reach the heights of last week [at Manchester City] in terms of possession we were up against a top team vying for a Champions League place. It has been a commendable effort from our players.

"We played two teams in the top four. We should have won at City and have got a draw here today."

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp:

"It's always a difficult place to come but I thought it was a game we could have won.

"They looked to play on the counter-attack and it was difficult to break them down. It's an important point, though, and a clean sheet and if you keep picking up clean sheets you won't be far away."

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (5)

Sunderland

  • 22 Mignolet
  • 02 Bardsley (Richardson - 80' )
  • 04 Turner
  • 12 Kilgallon
  • 06 Cattermole (Vaughan - 76' Booked )
  • 07 Larsson Booked
  • 08 Gardner
  • 14 Colback
  • 23 McClean
  • 28 Sessegnon
  • 52 Bendtner

Substitutes

  • 20 Westwood
  • 03 Bridge
  • 11 Richardson
  • 25 Kyrgiakos
  • 15 Vaughan
  • 18 Meyler
  • 17 Ji Dong-Won

Tottenham

  • 24 Friedel
  • 04 Kaboul
  • 13 Gallas
  • 28 Walker
  • 32 Assou-Ekotto Booked
  • 03 Bale
  • 08 Parker
  • 11 Van der Vaart (Defoe - 83' )
  • 14 Modric
  • 30 Sandro Booked (Lennon - 65' )
  • 10 Adebayor (Saha - 77' )

Substitutes

  • 23 Cudicini
  • 33 Nelsen
  • 07 Lennon
  • 21 Kranjcar
  • 29 Livermore
  • 15 Saha
  • 18 Defoe
Ref: Foy
Att: 39,335

Match Stats

Shots

12 15

On target

9 8

Corners

11 4

Fouls

12 10

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +5:16 Full time

Full Time The referee ends the match.

90:00 +4:38

The official flags Jermain Defoe offside. Simon Mignolet takes the free kick.

90:00 +4:11

The ball is crossed by Luka Modric, Michael Turner manages to make a clearance.

90:00 +3:40

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Luka Modric, clearance by Matthew Kilgallon.

90:00 +2:55

Free kick crossed by Luka Modric, Matthew Kilgallon makes a clearance.

90:00 +2:55 Booking

Booking The referee books David Vaughan for unsporting behaviour.

90:00 +2:49

Foul by David Vaughan on Aaron Lennon, free kick awarded.

88:08

Free kick crossed by Sebastian Larsson, William Gallas manages to make a clearance.

88:08 Booking

Booking Benoit Assou-Ekotto is cautioned.

88:06

Stephane Sessegnon fouled by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, the ref awards a free kick.

87:01 Booking

Booking Sebastian Larsson shown a yellow card.

84:33

Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson to the near post.

83:26

James McClean fouled by Kyle Walker, the ref awards a free kick. Sebastian Larsson crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from own half, Younes Kaboul manages to make a clearance.

82:27 Substitution

Substitution Jermain Defoe joins the action as a substitute, replacing Rafael Van der Vaart.

79:34 Substitution

Substitution Kieran Richardson is brought on as a substitute for Phillip Bardsley.

79:06

Gareth Bale takes a shot from 18 yards. Blocked by Michael Turner.

78:26

Luka Modric fouled by Craig Gardner, the ref awards a free kick. Rafael Van der Vaart delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing.

77:19

The ball is swung over by Stephane Sessegnon, Sebastian Larsson takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.

76:57 Substitution

Substitution (Tottenham) makes a substitution, with Louis Saha coming on for Emmanuel Adebayor.

75:50

Inswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, clearance made by Gareth Bale.

75:27 Substitution

Substitution David Vaughan replaces Lee Cattermole.

75:09

James McClean crosses the ball, Kyle Walker gets a block in.

74:59

Phillip Bardsley crosses the ball, clearance by Kyle Walker.

74:19

The ball is sent over by Phillip Bardsley, clearance made by William Gallas.

72:51

Rafael Van der Vaart takes a shot. Michael Turner gets a block in.

70:11

Phillip Bardsley produces a cross.

69:20

Kyle Walker crosses the ball, save made by Simon Mignolet.

65:41

Luka Modric takes a shot. Lee Cattermole gets a block in.

65:35

Aaron Lennon sends in a cross, Craig Gardner manages to make a clearance.

65:07

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kyle Walker by Nicklas Bendtner. Direct free kick taken by Kyle Walker.

64:11 Substitution

Substitution Aaron Lennon on for Raniere Sandro.

63:11

Gareth Bale takes a shot. Blocked by Matthew Kilgallon.

61:16

Direct free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.

61:16 Booking

Booking Raniere Sandro receives a yellow card.

61:08

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Matthew Kilgallon by Raniere Sandro.

60:47

Shot by Phillip Bardsley. Save by Brad Friedel.

59:31

Sebastian Larsson takes a corner.

59:22

The ball is swung over by Sebastian Larsson, Kyle Walker makes a clearance.

58:51

Benoit Assou-Ekotto delivers the ball, Header from deep inside the area by Gareth Bale goes over the bar.

58:38

The ball is swung over by Kyle Walker, clearance made by Michael Turner.

56:36

The referee blows for offside. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.

54:34

Rafael Van der Vaart takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the crossbar.

52:05

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Craig Gardner by William Gallas. Free kick taken by Phillip Bardsley.

51:41

Raniere Sandro takes a shot. Blocked by Craig Gardner.

51:34

Centre by Luka Modric, Matthew Kilgallon manages to make a clearance.

49:56

Inswinging corner taken by James McClean from the right by-line.

46:11

Sebastian Larsson concedes a free kick for a foul on Gareth Bale. Luka Modric takes the direct free kick.

45:43

A cross is delivered by James McClean, Stephane Sessegnon takes a shot. Blocked by William Gallas.

45:01

The referee gets the second half started.

45:00 +1:05 Half time

Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.

45:00 +0:56

Benoit Assou-Ekotto produces a cross, clearance by Matthew Kilgallon.

45:00 +0:51

The ball is delivered by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, blocked by Rafael Van der Vaart.

45:00 +0:02

Gareth Bale takes a shot. Blocked by Lee Cattermole.

43:49

The official flags Nicklas Bendtner offside. Brad Friedel restarts play with the free kick.

43:10

Rafael Van der Vaart takes a shot. Matthew Kilgallon gets a block in.

42:41

Benoit Assou-Ekotto sends in a cross, clearance by Michael Turner.

40:50

Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson to the near post, Close range header by Nicklas Bendtner goes over the bar.

39:45

Free kick awarded for a foul by Benoit Assou-Ekotto on Stephane Sessegnon. Sebastian Larsson delivers the ball, Michael Turner takes a shot. Emmanuel Adebayor gets a block in.

39:08

The ball is delivered by James McClean.

38:29

Unfair challenge on Emmanuel Adebayor by Craig Gardner results in a free kick. Emmanuel Adebayor restarts play with the free kick.

37:18

Stephane Sessegnon fouled by Scott Parker, the ref awards a free kick. Stephane Sessegnon takes the direct free kick.

36:34

Raniere Sandro crosses the ball, clearance by Michael Turner.

35:53

Craig Gardner challenges Luka Modric unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Luka Modric from left channel, Nicklas Bendtner manages to make a clearance.

35:26

Jack Colback gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Raniere Sandro. Rafael Van der Vaart takes the direct free kick.

33:43

Corner taken by Sebastian Larsson, Craig Gardner takes a shot. Comfortable save by Brad Friedel.

33:09

Matthew Kilgallon takes a shot. Blocked by Nicklas Bendtner. Nicklas Bendtner takes a shot. Blocked by Scott Parker.

32:40

Inswinging corner taken by James McClean from the right by-line, Kyle Walker makes a clearance.

32:20

Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from the right by-line, clearance made by Emmanuel Adebayor.

32:16

The ball is swung over by Nicklas Bendtner, Benoit Assou-Ekotto makes a clearance.

31:25

Corner taken left-footed by Rafael Van der Vaart from the left by-line, clearance made by Phillip Bardsley.

30:20

Unfair challenge on Raniere Sandro by Lee Cattermole results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Rafael Van der Vaart, clearance by Craig Gardner.

29:01

Raniere Sandro challenges Stephane Sessegnon unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jack Colback restarts play with the free kick.

28:33

Lee Cattermole challenges Gareth Bale unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Rafael Van der Vaart.

27:09

Emmanuel Adebayor is adjudged to have handled the ball. Direct free kick taken by Matthew Kilgallon.

26:10

Corner taken left-footed by Rafael Van der Vaart from the right by-line, save made by Simon Mignolet.

25:44

Scott Parker takes a shot. Blocked by Michael Turner.

24:56

Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, clearance made by Kyle Walker.

24:42

Corner taken by James McClean, clearance made by Raniere Sandro.

23:37

Kyle Walker challenges James McClean unfairly and gives away a free kick. Sebastian Larsson crosses the ball, Craig Gardner takes a shot. Raniere Sandro gets a block in.

22:32

Younes Kaboul concedes a free kick for a foul on Nicklas Bendtner. Matthew Kilgallon takes the direct free kick.

22:11

Emmanuel Adebayor takes a shot. Blocked by Michael Turner.

21:06

Scott Parker fouled by Nicklas Bendtner, the ref awards a free kick. Rafael Van der Vaart crosses the ball in from the free kick, Michael Turner manages to make a clearance.

20:35

The ball is swung over by Kyle Walker.

19:01

Phillip Bardsley delivers the ball, Shot from inside the six-yard box by Stephane Sessegnon goes wide right of the goal.

18:44

Craig Gardner produces a cross, clearance by William Gallas.

17:27

Corner from right by-line taken by Rafael Van der Vaart.

17:20

The ball is crossed by Raniere Sandro, blocked by Craig Gardner.

15:20

Sebastian Larsson takes the inswinging corner, save by Brad Friedel.

15:13

James McClean takes a shot. William Gallas gets a block in.

13:09

Shot by Benoit Assou-Ekotto from outside the box goes over the net.

12:13

James McClean concedes a free kick for a foul on Kyle Walker. Rafael Van der Vaart produces a cross, Emmanuel Adebayor takes a shot. Blocked by Phillip Bardsley.

11:11

Centre by Gareth Bale, Phillip Bardsley gets a block in.

10:14

Luka Modric has a drilled shot. Simon Mignolet makes a save.

7:54

Gareth Bale fouled by Phillip Bardsley, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Brad Friedel.

7:37

The ball is swung over by James McClean.

6:57

Shot from outside the box by Craig Gardner misses to the left of the goal.

3:47

Effort from a long way out by Benoit Assou-Ekotto goes wide right of the target.

0:47

Rafael Van der Vaart gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jack Colback. Direct free kick taken by Jack Colback.

0:00

The match gets underway.

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