Tottenham suffered the most cruel of defeats against Everton at Goodison Park conceding two goals in additional time after Clint Dempsey had given them the lead midway through the second half. The result sees Everton move ahead of Spurs on goal difference in to fourth place, three points behind Chelsea.
Everton 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
Scorers: Pienaar, Jelavic Dempsey
Team: Lloris; Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen; Lennon (Sigurdsson), Sandro, Dembele (Huddlestone), Dempsey; Adebayor; Defoe (Falque) Subs: Friedel, Naughton, Livermore, Townsend
Andre Villas-Boas resolved the problem of playing without the injured Gareth Bale by starting with both Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe. Adebayor was asked to play a slightly deeper role while Clint Dempsey moved out to the left of midfield. William Gallas and Steven Caulker resumed their partnership in central defence with Jan Vertonghen at left back.
It was a very competitive match with both teams totally committed and working hard. Everton were looking to play the ball over Tottenham’s defence while Spurs were attempting to pass through and round the home defence. The absence of Bale gave Everton an option of playing the ball wide to their right where their right back, Coleman, took every opportunity to attack.
Everton made a positive start but the Spurs defence coped with the early threat and then started to get their own patient passing game going. Howard held a shot from distance from Dembele after seven minutes and then the Belgian played the ball to Defoe but a defender cleared just as the striker prepared to shoot. Hugo Lloris made a good save on the edge of his area, diving at the feet of Jelavic as he broke clear on the counter-attack.
After a quarter of an hour, good pressing by Sandro won the ball for Spurs and the chance to break but Dempsey was fouled. From the free-kick, Howard comfortably saved Dempsey’s shot. A long ball from defence almost caught Spurs out but they recovered to clear. Then Vertonghen and Dembele created a chance for Dempsey to pull the ball back to Defoe but Everton cleared although Spurs regained the ball and Sandro’s shot was blocked for a corner.
Spurs worked hard to cover when Everton moved forward with midfield players and strikers working back to defend and cover when required. In the final minutes of the half the Everton endeavour intensified and they had two appeals for penalties turned down by the referee and then Caulker put in a vital clearance to block a shot from Osman.
Everton had an early chance in the second half after a shot from a free-kick was blocked by the wall but the ball was played wide and Naysmith missed a good opportunity to open the scoring. Gallas put in a good block against Jelavic but a run by Kyle Walker gave Spurs some momentum and they saw shots from Sandro and Gallas blocked for corners. Both sides continued to work hard to cancel each other out and Vertonghen had two chances. First, a shot from a free-kick was turned over for a corner by Howard and then a header from corner was held by the goalkeeper.
Lloris saved a header from Fellaini at a free-kick and then pushed away a shot from Osman. Two minutes later, on 75 minutes, Spurs were ahead. Tom Huddlestone who had replaced Lennon found Dempsey whose shot from twenty five yards was deflected and went over the diving Howard’s outstretched hand.
Spurs played out the final fifteen minutes comfortably as Everton increased their effort but Tottenham were in control defensively and remarkably untroubled. Gylfi Sigurdson had replaced a tiring Dembele and saw a shot rebound off the bar with six minutes to play. Iago Falque replaced Defoe for the final five minutes to make his Premier League debut as Spurs looked to bring about Everton’s first home defeat since March.
As it was announced that the referee had indicated an additional four minutes were to be played, the match turned on events during the next 88 seconds. An Everton attack came to nothing at the edge of the area with Lloris coming to gather the ball but Caulker instead cleared rashly, as he had done against West Ham. This gifted the ball back to the home team and from the cross Pienaar headed past Lloris for the equaliser. It seemed that Spurs had dropped two points but then another Everton attack saw a cross flicked over Gallas for the advancing Jelavic to score the winner.
If Spurs had taken all three points, Everton would have had every reason to feel disappointed but equally Spurs can feel hard done by at getting nothing from the match. A moment indecision in defence in added time cost Spurs dearly. If Lloris had gathered the ball, the match in all probability would have ended in a Spurs win.
A very disappointing and frustrating result from a match which looked to be going Tottenham’s way. Late goals have cost Tottenham dearly this season. Andre Villas-Boas, rightly praised the players for their effort.
“It was a disappointing result bearing in mind we were leading taking the game into the last minute. If we count the number of results that have been going for us before the last minutes we would be first. It is something we are aware of, which is why we speak about it openly, and it is something we have to improve, seeing off games.”
A post match Tweet from a Tottenham fan perfectly sums up every Tottenham supporters’ feelings.
“You can never be sure of a Spurs victory or even a point! Cruel team to support sometimes!