Tottenham 2 (1) – (1) 2 Everton
By Thom Power
Having won three Premier League matches on the trot, Everton had given themselves a real chance of contesting for a qualification spot for next season’s Champion’s League, and for 85 minutes this afternoon that dream looked to have a more realistic chance of coming true, and yet that chance has not surely come and gone.
A equalising strike from Gylfi Sigurdsson five minutes from time gave Tottenham a deserving point at White Hart Lane after Phil Jagielka and Kevin Mirallas had netted for the Toffees, following a lightning quick opener from Emmanuel Adebayor, and the result leaves David Moyes’ men still six points off their rivals, despite having a match in hand.
Moyes opted to hand a first Premier League start of the season to teenager Ross Barkley, who took the place of Nikica Jelavic; the Croatian making do with a place on the bench. The Scot also reverted back to type with his tried a trusted 4-4-1-1 formation after experimenting last week in the win against Stoke.
And yet the Toffees found themselves 1-0 down with just 34 seconds on the clock. Jan Vertonghen swung in a dangerous cross from the left wing, Sylvain Distin failed to clear his lines and Adebayor was on hand to steer the ball past the helpless Tim Howard.
Unperturbed, Everton regrouped and took the game to their hosts and, following a wayward Leon Osman effort, they restored parity. An inswinging corner from the left was met by the head of captain Jagielka, who nodded the ball into the ground and over the line despite Vertonghen’s best efforts to put him off.
Spurs themselves regrouped and tried to impose their style of football upon the visitors, but all their effort and endeavour they could only muster a few wayward long range drives that failed to test Howard. The Lilywhites finally registered another effort on target just before the break, but Sigurdsson saw his tame goalbound attempt smothered by the American.
The second half saw Everton start much more brightly than they did in the previous half, and another moment of magic from Kevin Mirallas put them ahead not long after the restart. Collecting a Victor Anichebe pass, the Belgian jinked his way past two challenges before firing low into the opposite corner of Hugo Lloris’ net to the delight of the travelling Everton contingent.
Desperate not to allow the Toffees to gain ground on them in the league standings, Andre Villas-Boas’ side fought back and would have equalised immediately but for the reflexes of Howard; the 33 year old turning a deflected Mousa Dembele effort onto the crossbar and away to safety.
Clint Dempsey went close twice soon after before Howard was called on yet again to deny Adebayor after the Togolose’s surging run from the half way line. Anichebe went close twice down the opposite end of the field as Everton searched for a goal to clinch the three points, and the Nigerian was left ruing those opportunities as Spurs equalised.
Kyle Walker’s lung bursting run down the right culminated in a cross from the byline which was turned goal wards by Adebayor. The 28 year old’s shot, however, cannoned back off the post and squirmed its way to Sigurdsson, who duly dispatched from three yards out.
Anichebe should have won it at the end for the Toffees but his left footed effort was saved by the legs of Lloris, and both sides had to make do with a point apiece from a pulsating encounter.
Man of the Match: Phil Jagielka. The 30 year old was in impervious form at the back for the Toffees, and his equalising goal was the icing on the cake for the centre back.