Nikica Jelavic’s first goal in the Royal Blue earned Everton a 1-0 win over Tottenham tonight.
The Croatian’s 12 yard strike on 22 minutes was the deciding factor at Goodison Park, and three well earned points mean that the Toffees lie just two points behind rivals Liverpool ahead of next Tuesday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield.
David Moyes drafted in the 26 year old, as well as giving starts to returnees Leon Osman and Seamus Coleman, to his starting eleven ahead of a busy two week schedule for his charges and the Scot, watching on ahead of his tenth anniversary at the Blues, saw his side start the brighter of the two teams despite a lack of goalscoring opportunities. Indeed, chances were few and far between before Jelavic opened the scoring; Marouane Fellaini coming closest when his effort was parried away from Brad Freidel, but having suffered back to back defeats Harry Redknapp’s Spurs’ outfit were lethargic and lacking in ideas.
It was Osman who was instrumental in setting up Jelavic for his first goal as an Everton player; the diminuitive midfielder jinxing his way past Younes Kaboul before sliding the ball into the Croatian’s path to slot home. Goodison erupted, with Jelavic being mobbed by everyone of his team mates. The Toffees upped the ante following their opener, with Jelavic going close once more from a free kick.
The second half saw a turnaround in fortunes for the Londoners, albeit possession wise. With some choice words ringing in their ears from Redknapp, they turned the screw on Everton as the half wore on, with Jermain Defoe seeing an effort correctly ruled out for offside. Defoe and Luka Modric both went close late in the match, but Everton were doing well to hold the tide at bay.
Redknapp introduced Louis Saha for Emmanuel Adebayor with half an hour to go, and it was the returning Frenchman who almost stole a share of the spoils in the dying moments of the match. Collecting the ball from Modric, the 32 year old turned a struck an effort towards goal. His shot, however, rattled the post and bounced to safety; much to the relief of all those supporting the Blues inside Goodison. Referee Mark Halsey blew up not too long after, and Everton march onto Anfield on the back of a nine match unbeaten run.