Robbie Keane's 100th goal for the club sealed a fourth straight home victory for Spurs as they held off a spirited display from strugglers Sunderland.
Keane celebrates after his 100th Tottenham goal seals the home win
Aaron Lennon poked in Jamie O'Hara's cross on two minutes and Jermain Defoe and Dimitar Berbatov forced fine saves from Craig Gordon as Spurs dominated.
The hosts should have been cruising at half-time, but Liam Miller and Kenwyne Jones went close as Sunderland rallied.
It proved futile, though, as Keane strode through to wrap it up late on.
It was a cruel finish for Black Cats boss Roy Keane, who will wonder how his side left White Hart Lane with nothing after a determined second-half performance.
On paper it looked a mis-match, with Spurs the Premier League's top scorers at home and Sunderland looking to avoid a seventh straight away defeat.
And, despite resting several first-teamers with Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final against Arsenal in mind, Juande Ramos could have been forgiven for a sense of bemusement at how his side were not five or six goals up at half-time, such was the hosts' dominance.
One of those home changes saw Tom Huddlestone return to the side at the heart of defence after a three-match ban and the 20-year-old was inspired in the first 45 minutes.
Usually a midfielder, he dealt with the rare Black Cats attacks well throughout, while also providing full evidence of his passing range with a series of raking through-balls.
He had no hand in the opener, though, the equally impressive Lennon prodding home from O'Hara's fine cross after Paul McShane's poor clearance had been charged down by Young-Pyo Lee.
Thereafter, chance after chance went begging for Spurs, first Berbatov sliding the ball against the post with the goal gaping after Jenas had been set free by Huddlestone, and then the Bulgarian hitting the bar from 12 yards after more excellent work by Lennon.
Jermain Defoe, who has been linked with a move away from White Hart Lane but was captain on the day, slowly came into the game and only a Gordon fingertip save prevented his cheeky chip from doubling Spurs' lead.
Aaron Lennon, centre, celebrates his early strike at White Hart Lane
And the visiting keeper was again the Sunderland hero a minute later when Huddlestone found Berbatov 20 yards out only for his drive to be tipped over.
Sunderland were restricted to mere half chances in the opening 45 minutes but they were a different outfit after the break, and with only a goal in it they knew they were in the game.
In fact, they might have been level immediately after half time had Murphy done better from 16 yards when he curled wide after a defensive mix-up.
Jones then thought he had levelled it up minutes later, only for his neat finish on the turn to be rightly ruled out for offside.
And when Murphy's cross zipped across the Tottenham box untouched it looked like the visitors were more than capable of getting back into the match.
It was end-to-end stuff for a while, with Lennon threatening and Berbatov seeing a firm volley deflected wide by Nyron Nosworthy, while Murphy got the better of Paul Stalteri before missing another half chance at the other end.
But Sunderland still had to wait until the 80th minute to get a first effort on target, Danny Collins' header forcing a smart low save from Radek Cerny.
The Black Cats kept surging forward and arguably their best chance fell to substitute Michael Chopra with just minutes left on the clock, the striker failing to connect five yards out with Cerny grounded and the goal gaping.
The visitors had Tottenham camped in their own half and there was still time for Cerny to produce a fabulous double save from Murphy and then Liam Miller.
But Keane settled the match in injury time, striding onto Cerny's long clearance to drive under Gordon and send the crowd into raptures and keep Sunderland in the bottom three.
Tottenham assistant boss Gus Poyet:
"We were so impressive in the first half, creating chances and playing lovely football, but we didn't score the second and so we had a very, very tough second half.
"There are many reasons for that, maybe. We're still in all the cups and are playing so many games for one, and I think we might have relaxed after half-time too and you can't afford to do that.
"But we held on, defended well and kept another clean sheet. We now have a massive game against Arsenal on Tuesday and, if we could get to the final, it might prove a turning point for this club in terms of winning things and getting into Europe again.
"That said, we don't need any extra pressure! We know how important the game is and we'll be doing our best to get the right result."
Sunderland manager Roy Keane:
"I find it amazing we didn't get anything out of the game, to be honest. We fought back well in the second half and forced a couple of brilliant saves from their keeper.
"However, you can't defend like we did on the two goals and expect to win matches away from home in the Premier League.
"We'll take positives from the game - our performance got better as the game went on and our keeper was outstanding again, but we have no excuses if we defend like that."
Tottenham: Cerny, Stalteri (Chimbonda 79), Lee, Dawson, Huddlestone, Jenas, Boateng, O'Hara (Tainio 55), Lennon, Berbatov, Defoe (Keane 74).
Subs Not Used: Robinson, Rose.
Booked: Lee, Chimbonda.
Goals: Lennon 2, Keane 90.
Sunderland: Gordon, Nosworthy, McShane (Cole 75), Collins, Evans, Whitehead, Murphy, Miller, Yorke, Stokes (Chopra 39), Jones.
Subs Not Used: Fulop, Harte, O'Donovan.
Booked: McShane, Chopra.
Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).
BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Sunderland's Craig Gordon 7.84 (on 90 minutes).
Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.