LONDON (Reuters) - Jermain Defoe’s record of scoring on his first appearance for every club he has played for came to an end as Sunderland lost 2-1 at his former club Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday.
Eleven months after leaving Tottenham for a short-lived spell with Toronto FC in the MLS, the 32-year-old former England striker was given a warm reception by the home fans when he ran out in Sunderland’s unfamiliar all-blue away strip.
He was also applauded when he was substituted after 75 minutes, having rarely threatened to score.
He was well-marshalled by central defenders Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen, although it was an incident between Vertonghen and Defoe that led to Sunderland’s 30th minute equaliser.
Vertonghen, who put Spurs ahead in the second minute with a shot that was deflected in by John O’Shea, was booked after referee Chris Foy ruled he fouled Defoe 25 metres from goal with Sebastian Larsson curling home the subsequent free-kick.
Defoe, who only completed his move to Sunderland on Friday with U.S. striker Jozy Altidore moving back to the MLS, showed one or two flashes of the speed and movement which manager Gus Poyet hopes will bring the goals to keep Sunderland up.
“I think Jermain did very well; he looked very sharp to start with but then he got tired - of course he wanted to stay on the pitch, but we took him off,” Poyet said.
“The only way he will get fitness is to play in matches and that’s why he started today. Overall, I’m pleased with the way we played today but disappointed with the result.”
“We got in good positions with both Defoe and (Steven) Fletcher having early chances, but this is only the first time we’ve tried to play like this and I think it was a good start.”
London-born Defoe, the fifth highest Tottenham scorer of all time with 143 goals and their leading scorer in Europe with 23, was training with the Spurs development squad until last week when he moved to Sunderland.
He had previously scored on his debut for Bournemouth, West Ham United, Spurs and Toronto FC.
While Christian Eriksen’s late winner means Defoe’s Sunderland are mired in the relegation dogfight, just a point above the bottom three, his old club are firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish, moving above Arsenal into fifth.
editing by Martyn Herman