Emmanuel Adebayor slid home a late winner to lift Tottenham back above north London rivals Arsenal into a Champions League qualifying position as they saw off 10-man Stoke 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium.
Andre Villas-Boas' men had laboured in search of a potentially lucrative winner after Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam was dismissed in the 47th minute for a second bookable offence.
But Adebayor tapped in a cross from Clint Dempsey from close range in the 83rd minute to take them back up to fourth after Dempsey had cancelled out Steven Nzonzi's opener.
Despite having nothing but pride to play for after edging out of the relegation dogfight, it was Stoke who started with more intent and Nzonzi headed an Adam free-kick past Hugo Lloris after Dempsey fouled Ryan Shotton on the right.
Dempsey had the ball in the net in the 15th minute but his effort was ruled out for offside, but five minutes later the American drew his side level with a superb piece of skill.
Stoke defender Marc Wilson and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic got in a muddle over a crossfield ball by Scott Parker, Wilson clearing the ball to Dempsey who responded by lobbing it straight back over the stranded Begovic from 30 yards.
Spurs began to get more of a grip on the game and almost grabbed a second five minutes from the break when Michael Dawson met a Gareth Bale cross with an angled header which was parried away by Begovic.
But Stoke also had a chance to go in ahead at the break after Adam brushed past Dempsey by the corner flag and dribbled a ball across goal which was eventually booted clear by Dawson.
Stoke's task got a lot tougher two minutes into the second half when Adam was dismissed by referee Kevin Friend after a clumsy challenge on Jan Vertonghen on the Spurs left.
And Spurs finally grabbed their second seven minutes from time when Dempsey picked up a half-clearance and dribbled the ball across the six-yard box where Adebayor converted the simplest of chances.