Johnson strike cancelled out as visitors take the points.
Goals either side of half time saw Tottenham cancel out Adam Johnson’s opener to take all three points on Wearside.
Johnson fired Sunderland into the lead with a powerful finish from Ondrej Celustka’s cross eight minutes before the break.
However, Gus Poyet’s side were quickly pegged back through a close-range finish from Brazilian Paulinho after Lewis Holtby’s free-kick was headed back across goal.
The unlucky John O’Shea then deflected Moussa Dembele’s cross beyond Vito Mannone five minutes into the second half for what proved to be the winning goal.
Meanwhile Jermain Defoe twice rattled the woodwork for Spurs, who saw off a late push by the hosts.
Sunderland showed four changes from the side who suffered a narrow defeat to Chelsea, with Steven Fletcher returning to the starting line-up alongside Jozy Altidore.
Meanwhile Johnson, Celustka and Seb Larsson all returned to the side, with Craig Gardner, Fabio Borini, Andrea Dossena and Emanuele Giaccherini missing out.
A minute’s applause was held just before kick off in memory of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who passed away during the week.
Proceedings got off to a quiet start until Spurs registered the first shot on goal 13 minutes in, Paulinho blasting just over the bar from distance.
The Brazilian’s effort seemed the spark the contest into life, and soon afterwards Fletcher pulled an angled drive wide after latching on to Phil Bardsley’s incisive ball over the top.
Vito Mannone then turned away a blast from Holtby at the other end but Sunderland were soon back on the attack, with Jack Colback shooting wide just before the 20-minute mark following a neat move also involving Fletcher and Altidore.
Spurs, who came into the game on the back of a derby win at Fulham in midweek, pushed on with Paulinho denied by a good block from Wes Brown, Defoe firing wide on the break and Nacer Chadli seeing a header from a corner well held by Mannone.
But Sunderland responded by taking the lead eight minutes before half time, cashing in on a well-worked move.
Altidore’s neat ball found Celustka, whose cross was tipped away by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris to the feet of Johnson, who took a touch before rifling a powerful shot into the top right-hand corner.
It was a fine way for the winger to score his first league goal of the season.
However, the lead lasted only six minutes as the dangerous Paulinho equalised two minutes before the interval.
Holtby’s deep free-kick to the back post was headed back across and the Brazilian nipped in front of Bardsley to touch the ball through Mannone’s legs from close range.
The timing of Spurs’ reply was an undoubted blow to the hosts, who tested Lloris when the stopper was forced to beat out a powerful shot from Celustka.
Spurs came close to a second goal in first-half stoppage time when Nacer Chadli headed Holtby’s corner narrowly over – and they were in the lead five minutes into the second period in unfortunate circumstances for the home side.
Dembele got down the left and his attempted cut-back deflected off the covering O’Shea and between a wrong-footed Mannone and the post for an own goal.
Looking to press home the advantage, Spurs stepped things up and could have increased their lead.
Holtby saw a shot brilliantly blocked by Wes Brown before Defoe headed against the post from close range just before the hour.
The latter then saw an excellent chance go begging when he broke in behind the Sunderland defence only to drag his angled shot beyond the far post and wide.
Poyet responded with a double substitution, replacing Johnson and Colback with Borini and Lee Cattermole.
The changes had an effect, with Lloris holding on to a shot on the turn by Altidore before Fletcher’s flicked header from Larsson’s cross dropped just wide of the far post.
The hosts were looking for a penalty 15 minutes from time when a corner appeared to strike substitute Sandro on the arm, but the appeals came to nought.
Giaccherini replaced Celustka as Poyet made his final change, with the game offering up further opportunities for both sides.
Defoe hit the woodwork for a second time 12 minutes from the end, while Sunderland’s best chance of the closing stages came soon afterwards when Borini fired straight at Lloris in a congested goalmouth.
Paulinho headed wide from close range late on while Mannone made a good save to deny sub Andros Townsend, acrobatically turning the winger’s shot over the top.
Sunderland’s final opportunity came deep into stoppage time when Lloris pushed out Giaccherini’s low cross, but the lurking Fletcher was just beaten to the loose ball as the visiting defence hurriedly cleared their lines.
- Yellow Celustka (Giaccherini)
- Johnson (Borini)
- Colback (Cattermole)
- Yellow Altidore
- Holtby (Townsend)
- Dembélé (Guimarães Cordeiro)
- Chadli (Sigurdsson)
- Bezerra Maciel Júnior
- Guimarães Cordeiro