Tim Sherwood’s future at the Spurs helm may be less than certain, but the hosts’ comprehensive victory means the fate of Gus Poyet’s side is becoming increasingly clear.
The pre-match build-up was dominated by a report earlier in the day that Sherwood would be replaced as Spurs boss this summer, regardless of how results went between now and the end of the campaign.
By that reckoning, this impressive comeback win will have little impact on his future, although the same cannot be said for Sunderland, who may have two games in hand on many of their rivals but languish bottom of the table and seven points adrift of safety.
Before the match Sherwood insisted it was “business as usual” at Spurs and that his players should not be affected by the speculation, although their minds certainly appeared elsewhere as they gifted Sunderland the opener.
Collecting a poor return ball from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, Vlad Chiriches – on his first appearance since January 29 – played a terrible square ball straight into the path of Lee Cattermole, who impressively slotted home his first Sunderland goal to the ire of the home support.
It was a sucker punch that Tottenham attempted to cancel out immediately, with Harry Kane wasting a chance at an immediate equaliser.
Kyle Naughton flashed a long-range effort into the side-netting as Spurs upped the ante, before Emmanuel Adebayor scooped over after a Kane attempt was blocked by Vergini’s hand.
No penalty was awarded but Tottenham soon managed to eke out a leveller thanks to their returning top scorer, with Christian Eriksen’s fine ball bundled home at the back post by Adebayor.
Adam Johnson had an early half-chance when play resumed for the second half and Sherwood was incensed that referee Lee Mason waved away appeals for a penalty after Harry Kane was upended by Carlos Cuellar.
The home fans would not be frustrated for long, though, as Kane prodded home his first Premier League goal following another Eriksen delivery to give Spurs a deserved lead.
Eriksen then capped a man-of-the-match display by scoring Tottenham’s third from 20 yards, via a deflection with 12 minutes remaining.
Sunderland crumbled, allowing Adebayor to add a fourth in the 86th minute after Kane’s initial strike squirmed through Mannone’s grasp.
The Sunderland goalkeeper was beaten again in stoppage time as substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson scored from close range to put a smile on Sherwood’s face at the end of a tough day.