Sigurdsson rescues point for nervy Spurs

Champions League qualification places set to go down to the wire

Everton's Phil Jagielka heads home his side’s first goal during the Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur  at White Hart Lane. Photograph:  Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Everton's Phil Jagielka heads home his side’s first goal during the Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters


Tottenham Hotspur 2 Everton 2: Tottenham Hotspur's derby victory over Arsenal and the accompanying sense of euphoria seems a long time ago. It was only at the beginning of last month that André Villas-Boas's team beat their neighbours to stride seven points clear of them. It felt like a comfortable buffer for Champions League qualification.

There was the elation of a late equaliser at White Hart Lane, from Gylfi Sigurdsson, but this felt like a game that they needed to win and only a fourth point from an available 12 had them casting backward glances.

Arsenal are within striking distance again and Tottenham's control of their destiny has loosened. Villas-Boas's men must still play Manchester City at home and travel to Chelsea, which is taking on all the hallmarks of a showdown.

There was plenty to like about Everton's performance and for most of the second half it had looked as though Kevin Mirallas's fine individual goal would secure a significant victory for them, one to fire their own Champions League hopes. Even after Sigurdsson's goal, Hugo Lloris needed to make a brave block from the man of the match, Victor Anichebe, to deny the visitors.

At the full-time whistle there were no boos from the home crowd, yet the tension that had bubbled throughout remained unmistakable. Without the injured Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Jermaine Defoe, Tottenham had fallen short, while Everton could also harbour regrets. The coming weeks will be unmissable.

Everton had arrived as the form team, bristling with belief that a top-four finish remains within their gift and they responded well to the early concession to Emmanuel Adebayor. It was hoped that the goal would settle Tottenham and, indeed, the striker's own nerves. Adebayor has struggled for sureness and touch yet he stretched to prod in Jan Vertonghen's whipped cross from the left. Only 33 seconds had elapsed.

But Everton pressed and they harried. They threw themselves into the challenges. The Tottenham captain Michael Dawson was panicked into a loose ball, which Leon Osman intercepted and curled wide of the far post and after Ross Barkley had won a corner, the visitors equalised.

It was a soft one to give away. Lloris has enjoyed an excellent debut season in the Tottenham goal but he was boxed in by Anichebe, on Leighton Baines's deep delivery before he attempted to come for the ball only to fail to get there. Phil Jagielka muscled his way over the back of Vertonghen to head down and past Lloris.

There was a jumpiness about Tottenham, which was epitomised by Kyle Walker's reaction to Lewis Holtby's overhit cross-field pass to him. The right back leapt and punched the ball like an angry beach volleyballer.

Villas-Boas lived every moment on the touchline, barking orders, whistling and riding the waves of emotion.

The first half flatlined after the goals, with athleticism to the fore, rather than quality to unclog the congestion but David Moyes made a change early in the second half, sending on the striker Nikica Jelavic for Barkley, and his positivity was rewarded immediately.

There was a hesitancy about Tottenham after Anichebe worked the ball towards Mirallas, with Vertonghen unable to react decisively and Scott Parker falling into the Everton attacker's slipstream. Mirallas ran at Steven Caulker, jinked one way, then the other and drove a low right-footed shot into the far corner to send Moyes into raptures on the touchline.

Tottenham raised the intensity. Mousa Dembélé's shot flicked off John Heitinga for Tim Howard to paw up and against the crossbar while Clint Dempsey and Walker went close from distance. But Everton defended stoutly while they also flickered on the counter.

The home crowd took out their frustration on the referee Andre Marriner while they booed Villas-Boas's decision to withdraw Dembélé for Tom Huddlestone; Dembélé had looked one of the more likely players to create something, although he had tired.

The game came to the boil in dramatic fashion. Dempsey dummied Walker's low cross and Adebayor steered a shot past Tim Howard only to see the ball rebound off a post but Sigurdsson was on hand to score.

And yet Everton might have snatched the victory. The excellent Anichebe got the better of Dawson to find himself one-on-one with Lloris but the goalkeeper made a vital block, then Jelavic shot straight at him in injury-time.

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