Premier League - Spurs rescue win on Wearside
Asamoah Gyan scored his 10th goal of the season on 11 minutes while William Gallas was off the pitch changing his boots, and Gallas was again involved when Craig Gordon let Michael Dawson's 44th-minute header through his legs to let Spurs pull level. Niko Kranjcar then scored his second match-winning goal in as many games to again seal a first win on Wearside in a decade for Spurs.
Tottenham are now three points above Chelsea, although their vastly inferior goal difference means their London rivals can regain fourth spot with a derby win at Fulham on Monday night. Defeat for Sunderland means they missed out on the chance to move above Liverpool and up into sixth place.
Spurs have now recouped 20 points from losing positions this season, while Sunderland have dropped as many after being ahead this term, respectively making them the most resilient and profligate sides in the top flight.
With Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart all missing through injury and with Tuesday's Champions League trip to Milan very much in mind, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp fielded a much-changed line-up on Wearside, handed rare starts to the likes of Kranjcar, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Sandro.
After a bright, open start from both sides saw Jermaine Jenas shot over the bar and Steed Malbranque's volley blocked by team-mate Stephane Sessegnon, Sunderland took the lead in circumstances more suited to Sunday League football than the Premier League.
While experienced defender Gallas was off the field swapping one pair of bright yellow boots for another, the in-form Kieran Richardson picked out Gyan inside the Spurs area, and the Ghana striker good first touch invited a clinical shot on the turn which flew inside the far post.
Tottenham's unfamiliar line-up struggled to find fluency for much of the first-half, while Sunderland failed to make the most of their superior performance.
Gradually the visitors began to click, with Kranjcar following up scoring the winner against Bolton last weekend with an influential showing in the middle of the park.
Pavlyuchenko played the give-and-go with the Croatian before flashing a well-struck effort over the bar, but the visitors were soon level.
Michael Dawson rose to head a corner on target, and Gallas was standing right in front of Gordon, who couldn't react quickly enough to stop the ball sneaking through his legs.
Buoyed by that goal so soon before the break, Spurs emerged for the restart rejuvenated. Steven Pienaar's cross was again met by Dawson's head, and Gallas almost turned the ball in from close range only for Phil Bardsley to hack it clear off the line.
Sunderland were also threatening, with Sessegnon and Steed Malbranque both stinging the palms of Heurelho Gomes in quick succession.
But, just as at White Hart Lane against Bolton a week before, the previously out-of-favour Kranjcar hit an excellent winner.
Sandro's cross bound for Defoe - who had frustrating time all evening as he continues his search for his first league goal in 10 months - was headed away by John Mensah, but the ball dropped perfectly for Kranjcar to rifle a clinical volley into the bottom corner.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce introduced Ahmed Al-Muhamadi and Boudewijn Zenden is he went in search of an equaliser, but it was Richardson who went closest when his strike from the edge of the box clipped the top of the bar with Gomes beaten.
Redknapp brought on Wilson Palacios late on to help his team close out the win, which they duly did, taking the club past the 1000-point mark in the Premier League era along the way.