Everton and Spurs miss chance to go second
Two strong penalty claims denied at Goodison Park as both sides fail to find the net
Ireland’s Séamus Coleman of Everton in action with Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park. Photograph: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Everton 0 Tottenham 0
André Villas-Boas was spared the “difficult atmosphere” of White Hart Lane but the scrutiny on Tottenham Hotspur’s championship credentials continues. Early dominance drifted away without creating a serious chance at Everton as both Spurs and Roberto Martínez’s team missed the opportunity to go second in the Premier League.
The Spurs travelling support afforded Villas-Boas’ team a warm ovation after a hard-fought if often uninspiring goalless draw at Goodison Park. Everton were comfortably eclipsed in the first half and reversed the roles to some degree after the break, but both sides lacked the class and penetration required to convince among the elite of the Premier League. Of greater relief to Spurs was the sight of Hugo Lloris continuing in goal having been knocked out by an accidental collision with Romelu Lukaku, the keeper demanding to play on after an injury that produced nine minutes of added on time.
Considering the position at stake for both sides the initial gulf between the two was surprising. Tottenham controlled proceedings from the opening whistle, with Sandro leading the authority from midfield and Jan Vertonghen providing constant menace from left-back. Everton offered only resistance for the opening half-hour and their prospects of gaining a foothold in the game were not helped by the ease with which Spurs picked possession off their front four.
But for all the visitors’ dominance, and in the early exchanges it was absolute, Villas-Boas’s team did not provide Roberto Soldado with the support or numbers to stretch Tim Howard in the Everton goal. Spurs’ superiority yielded only three shots from distance in the first half, with Howard equal to the efforts from Sandro, a Kyle Walker free-kick and a daisy-cutter from Lewis Holtby. Still, it was three more saves than Hugo Lloris had to make. Everton did not produce an attack until the 15th minute and Leon Osman’s later effort from 25 yards sailed harmlessly over.
Spurs thought they should have had a penalty midway through the first period when Vertonghen broke into the Everton area following a slip by Seamus Coleman. The defender from Donegal recovered to usher Vertonghen away from goal only for a slight nudge to send him sprawling, as an earlier pull from Kevin Mirallas had also done. The over-elaboration arguably counted against the defender as the referee Kevin Friend waved play on and Villas-Boas raged at the fourth official.
The possession football that Martínez has introduced so successfully at Everton this season was nowhere to be seen before the interval but with Romelu Lukaku finally starting to hold up play, plus Osman’s and Pienaar’s touches improving, the second half brought an immediate response. Mirallas was foiled by a superb Vlad Chiriches challenge having been sent clear by Lukaku, and booked for dissent when complaining about the goal-kick that followed, and Pienaar had a clear chance to open the scoring when free inside the box. He found Michael Dawson’s crown jewels instead.
Martínez substitutions have been hugely productive in recent weeks and the Everton manager made a bold double switch in search of the breakthrough. The Barcelona loanee Gerard Deulofeu replaced the struggling Mirallas and Ross Barkley, dropped to the bench for the first time this season after a few below-par displays, came on for Osman. The pair were immediately involved, Barkley going close from 25 yards and Deulofeu releasing Coleman into the Spurs area. In a reversal of the first-half controversy Coleman tumbled under a touch from behind by Vertonghen, though managed to shoot before turning to see Friend dismiss the penalty appeals once again. Honours and grievances even.
Everton wrestled control back from Spurs in the second half but the visitors’ response was strangely passive. Soldado was isolated in attack until the introduction of Gylfi Sigurdsson injected some much-needed urgency into the Tottenham performance, although the game remained concentrated at the Gwladys Street end.
Lukaku flicked a James McCarthy cross wide of the far post and then sparked remarkable scenes, but thankfully nothing else, when he caught the Spurs keeper as he pursued a ball over the top. Lloris got there first but was knocked cold by an accidental collision with Lukaku’s knee. The Everton striker was shown a yellow card as the France international received lengthy treatment but refused to leave the field despite the appeals of team-mates, medical staff and Villas-Boas. The decision was vindicated as Lloris stayed on and made a fine save to thwart Deulofeu in the 89th minute.