Harry Kane capitalised on a Papy Djilobodji mistake to ensure Sunderland's poor start to the season continues.
The England international scored just before the hour mark to seal a 1-0 win for Spurs over Sunderland at White Hart Lane - to leave David Moyes' side winless after five league games.
Djilobodji failed to control and then clear the danger, with Kane nipping into score what turned out to be the winner.
Spurs dominated the possession, with Jordan Pickford outstanding in the Sunderland goal to ensure the scoreline was kept down.
Sunderland created little and couldn't complain about the scoreline, although the game could have been very different had Steven Pienaar scored a gilt-edged chance before half-time.
Sunderland ended the game with ten men, Manchester United loanee Adnan Januzaj sent off for a second booking.
Moyes made three changes to his Sunderland side - with Lee Cattermole, Pienaar and Dider Ndong all starting.
The injured Jack Rodwell and Duncan Watmore and Lynden Gooch - who were both on the bench - dropped out of the starting line-up.
There was a late change, with Patrick van Aanholt being replaced by Jason Denayer after the warm-up, with Donald Love added to the bench.
Denayer started at right-back, with versatile Manquillo at left-back.
Spurs started well, ex-Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko -who was subject to boos from the Sunderland fans - flashing a shot across the face of Jordan Pickford's goal.
Ten minutes in, Pickford made an important stop to deny Harry Kane at his front post.
Heung-Min Son had whipped the ball in from the left and Kane got in front of Lamine Kone to prod the ball towards goal.
Pickford was in the right place though, with the England Under-21 stopper again saving low from Mousa Dembele two minutes later.
Moments later Victor Wanyama tried his luck from distance, while Pickford also saved from Kane at the near post and then Toby Alderweireld's header from the subsequent corner.
It was all Spurs, with Sunderland camped in their own half.
It took until the 22 minute, but Sunderland finally forced Hugo Lloris into a save, Pickford picking out Defoe with a huge kick. Lloris down low to save.
The Spurs players were lining up to shoot at the other end, Cattermole with a brilliant block to deny Sissoko before the follow-up was drilled wide.
Sunderland fought their way back into the game well, with the experienced heads in the side keeping them in the game - as well as the gloves of 22-year-old Pickford.
Defoe was feeding on scraps up the other end, with the striker having to come deep to get the ball.
The impressive Son hit the post seven minutes before the break, with Pickford beaten - Januzaj's half-hearted challenge in the build-up left a lot to be desired.
Spurs were cranking up the pressure, with four successive corners with Son's delivery causing all sorts of problems.
Despite Spurs' dominance, it was Sunderland that came closest to opening the scoring, Pienaar's weak effort cleared off the line by Kyle Walker. It should have been a goal.
Defoe and Januazaj combined well, with the latter playing in the South African midfielder but he couldn't get enough power on his effort and Walker cleared.
Somehow, the game was goalless at the break.
Half-time: Tottenham Hotspur 0 Sunderland 0
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first, with Spurs dominating possession but Sunderland doggedly hanging in there.
Denayer, who was having a tough afternoon against Son, deflected his effort over before Pickford got an important touch on a Sissoko cross to push the ball away from danger.
Spurs' pressure finally resulted in a goal just before the hour mark.
Walker with a cross to the back post, Alli's header was nodded back across goal and Djilobodji inexplicably failed to control and then clear the ball.
It left England international Kane with the easiest of chances to slide the ball past Pickford.
Son caused Sunderland problems throughout the afternoon, with last-minute replacement Denayer struggling to contain him.
Pickford was again called upon in the 73rd minute, diving low to his left to prevent Alli's long-range drive from extending the Spurs lead.
With just over 10 minutes to go, Moyes brought Wahbi Khazri onto bolster his attacking options.
Sunderland were struggling to build any sort of momentum though, with Defoe feeding on less than scraps second half.
Son had a penalty appeal waved away in the final 10 minutes, with Djilobodji judged to have won the ball after sliding in - much to the fury of the Spurs bench.
Pickford then superbly tipped away a Lamela effort as Spurs looked to extend their advantage.
Sunderland were then reduced to 10 men for the final moments of the game, Januzaj receiving his second yellow card for a foul on Ben Davies to cap a tough afternoon for Moyes & Co.
Full-time: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Sunderland 0
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Lloris (C); Walker, Alderweireld, Dier (Davies, 78), Vertonghen; Dembele (Lamela, 74), Wanyama; Sissoko, Alli, Son; Kane (Eriksen, 87)
Subs Not Used: Vorm, Trippier, Winks, Eriksen.
Booked: Davies (84)
Goals: Kane (59)
Sunderland (4-3-3): Pickford, Denayer (McNair, 90), Djilobodji, Kone, Manquillo, Cattermole (c), Kirchhoff (Khazri, 79), Ndong, Pienaar (Watmore, 62), Januzaj, Defoe.
Subs Not Used: Mika, Love, O'Shea, Gooch.
Booked: Manquillo (43), Denayer (57), Cattermole (62), Ndong (65), Januzaj (80), Djilobodji (90)
Off: Januzaj (90)
Referee: Mike Dean (The Wirrall)