Jack Rodwell foul on Mousa Dembele a red card - Tottenham's Harry Kane
SUNDERLAND -- Harry Kane has said Jack Rodwell should "definitely" have been sent off in Tottenham's stalemate at Sunderland and he called for greater protection from referees.
Rodwell was lucky to escape with a booking from referee Lee Mason after a cynical scythe on Mousa Dembele as the Spurs midfielder launched a counterattack in the first half of Tuesday's 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light.
And Kane said afterwards: "You could say the other team were physical. I think there were some decisions on that pitch that were very surprising. I think Mousa getting kicked knee-high... If you go up to anyone on the pitch and kick them knee-height on purpose, it doesn't matter if it's a 'tactical foul,' let's say, it's a red card.
"There's another one -- Sonny's [Son Heung-Min] got a big gash going down his shin where the guy's kicked the ball and followed through onto his shin. Yes, it's physical but then I think we have to be protected as well, so obviously we're disappointed from that side of it. It was a disappointing night."
In the absence of Hugo Lloris, left in London because of illness, Kane captained Spurs but he says he received no explanation from Mason as to why Rodwell was only shown a yellow card.
He added: "No -- he obviously just saw it as a tactical foul but I think we all know a pull on the shirt or a trip on the foot or the shin even [is one thing]. But kicking someone knee-height on purpose like that I think's a dangerous tackle and for me I think it's definitely a red card.
"It's frustrating. We were trying to play our game, but look, it's football. We're disappointed that we probably didn't play well enough on the night anyway. It's one of those things, we can't do anything about it now. We've got another important game at the weekend. Arsenal and Chelsea play each other as well so one or both of them might drop points and we've got to be ready to capitalise.
"Teams are fighting for their lives and you can understand they're going to battle hard and work hard, especially against the bigger teams -- at home as well. We're ready for that, we've got no excuses for that. We've just got to perform better."
The point moved Spurs into second, ahead of Arsenal, but they missed the chance to move away from their rivals, who lost 2-1 to Watford, and close to gap to league leaders Chelsea, who were held 1-1 at Liverpool.
They remain nine points behind the Blues and Kane views the game as an opportunity missed, rather than a point gained.
"It's very frustrating, especially when you come in and find out the teams around us dropped points as well. It was a great opportunity for us. Obviously we're disappointed now and all we can do is get on with it and try to do something about it [at home to Middlesbrough] on Saturday.
"Obviously no-one expected Arsenal to drop points tonight. Liverpool and Chelsea, no-one knew either way but we definitely see it as a missed opportunity to gain some ground, but there's nothing we can do now."
The match was the first of seven games in 27 days for Spurs, who play Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Stoke City in the Premier League and have an FA Cup fifth-round match at Fulham in between a two-legged Europa League tie against AA Gent.
"It's something we've had to get used to over the last few years, playing in the Europa League and still being in the FA Cup and having big games ion the Premier League," Kane said.
"It's part of football, it's part of our schedule. We feel we're fit enough and strong enough to come through that. It's a big month for us but I think every month from now until the end of the season has got important games coming up, so we've just got to be ready."
Asked about Rodwell's tackle after the match, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said: "There is nothing to say, nothing to complain about. That is football. For the referee it is difficult to take a quick decision. I think we need to support the decision of the referee and it's important."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.