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Venue: White Hart Lane, London
Premier League
 Sunday 7 April; 2:05pm
2 2
Adebayor (1')
Sigurdsson (87')
Half Time: 0-0
Jagielka (15')
Mirallas (53')
Attendance: 36,192
Fixture 31
Referee: Andre Marriner

Match Report

The victory would have been massive... and Everton came so close to achieving it. Unfortunately, with just three minutes of the 90 to go, everything came together for Tottenham and the Blues' valiant defence of a 2-1 lead handed to the by more individual brilliance from Kevin Mirallas slipped crucially to allow Gylfi Sigurdsson to score an agonising equaliser.

Coming into the first of four vital away games against rivals for European qualification, Everton knew that they would have to play out of their skins and earn some unlikely victories against some of the best teams in the country. Going behind as early as 33 seconds could have killed their spirit at the outset of this crucial clash at White Hart Lane but David Moyes's side showed their renowned resilience to turn the game on its head and came very close to throwing the Champions League race wide open.

It really was the worst possible start, though. Moyes's changed side, one featuring John Heitinga deployed as the disruptive pitbull deployed in front of the back four and a surprise start for Ross Barkley, had barely had time to settle before Jan Vertongen swung in wicked cross from the left, one of those almost-impossible-to-defend balls behind the back four, and Emanuel Adebayor acrobatically half-volleyed it through Tim Howard's legs from close range.

Just what Gareth Bale-less Spurs needed and it presented the very real danger that the Blues could get beaten comprehensively if they didn't steady the ship quickly. Though Andre Villas-Boas's side clearly had their tails up, it didn't translate into an anything approaching an onslaught. Indeed, without the creative outlet of Bale and Aaron Lennon and the movement up front of Jermaine Defoe, Spurs lapsed into a surprisingly one-dimensional, route-one approach that, unfortunately, Everton were only too happy to return in kind for much of the first half.

There was precious outlet from defence for the likes of Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka which saw the ball launched forward in the direction of Victor Anichebe who, thankfully, was putting in a beast of a performance leading the forward line without the help of Nikica Jelavic who dropped back to the bench.

It was a superb ground pass by Leon Osman, though, that sent Barkley to the by-line in the 14th minute and when Matt Dawson put the youngster's cross behind, it set up the corner from which Everton would equalise. Leighton Baines swung the kick to the back post, Jagielka met it with and his downward header bounced between Hugo Lloris's legs and into the net. 1-1, early calamity erased, game on.

The restoration of parity did little to change the caginess shown by the two teams, though, and the fact that Kyle Walker's long-range shot that flashed wide Howard's left-hand post following a surging run was the only other moment of note for the rest of the first half spoke for itself.

The second half was an altogether more open affair, particularly as the Blues started on the front foot and, after Seamus Coleman was denied a stonewall free kick just outside the Spurs box, Darron Gibson fizzed a low shot a foot wide.

And Moyes, seeing that Tottenham were largely being contained, made an attacking change with 51 minutes gone by removing Barkley in favour of Jelavic. Though it was a surprise to see him start, the 19 year-old had earned his chance to impress but he was largely ineffective and struggled to make an impact on either flank.

The change was the right one and although it had no direct impact, Everton went ahead a minute later through the explosive Mirallas. The Belgian had been almost invisible for 52 minutes before he picked the ball up on the right flank and just surged towards the opposition area on the same kind of jinking run that ripped Stoke apart last weekend. With two defenders left reeling in his wake, he picked spot and swept the ball into the far corner to make it 2-1.

Tottenham responded immediately and were it not for a superb, reflex stop by Howard, Dembele would have had the home side level a minute later. The Belgian international found space 20 yards out and when his low shot deflected off Heitinga, Howard turned the ball onto the crossbar with his right hand.

In the main, though, Villas-Boas' men found the thick Blue line of Everton's amassed defensive ranks hard to penetrate. Heitinga in particular was particularly effective at hunting the ball down and disrupting the opposition's attempted flow, Baines and Osman was keeping Walker quiet down the right flank and Clint Dempsey was getting almost no change out of Jagielka and Distin.

Walker's piledriver from 30 yards that Howard parried away too safety just past the hour mark was as much trouble as Tottenham caused for half an hour after the Blues took the lead a lead that might have been doubled had Anichebe not gone for glory and lashed his shot wide rather than laying a square ball off to Jelavic who was open in front of goal but, predictably, their pressure escalated as the game moved into the final 10 minutes.

Nevertheless, despite sloppy fouls by Gibson and Mirallas in dangerous areas that provided set-piece chances for Spurs, subsequently wasted, Everton looked comfortable in defence of their advantage until Walker left for Baines for dead and advanced with time and space to pick a square cross to Adebayor 10 yards out. Time slowed down as the striker's side-foot effort beat Howard, cannoned off the face of the post but fell straight to Sigurdsson and, sadly, the Icelandic midfielder couldn't miss despite Coleman's desperate attempted block.

A veritable kick to the groin for an Everton side who had defended so well but who are having to count the cost of not being able to see a game out, although it was always going to be a tall order given the effort expended in protecting the lead against what were still strong opponents. Fatigue clearly played its part as the Blues were caught uncharacteristically short on numbers in the area for Sigurdsson's goal but Spurs' equaliser took the tally of points Moyes's side have lost from winning positions this season to 21.

And yet, were it not for Lloris, Anichebe might have snatched all three points for Everton shortly after the restart. A constant menace to Tottenham's back line all afternoon, the striker out-paced and out-muscled Dawson as he sped onto a through-ball in the 89th minute but the goalkeeper came off his line to close down the angle and prevent the goal with his legs. That would have set the seal on a terrific outing for Everton but it was not to be.

It's fair to say that most Evertonians would have taken a draw before kick off but having done so well to turn the game on its head and come so close to seeing out what would have been the Blues' first double of the season, once again a late equaliser by the opposition feels like it delivered defeat.

Given how little Spurs troubled Howard over the 90 minutes, it was maddening that Everton's defence buckled on one of the rare occasions when they did manage to penetrate our area but while it's tempting to criticise the team for failing to hold onto that precious lead, it should be acknowledged this was always going to be a difficult game to win.

As has been noted on many occasions this season, it is the points dropped against the likes of Norwich, Newcastle and Fulham that have really kept the Blues from fulfilling their dream this season. It's a dream that is still not yet out of the question despite the favourable results for Chelsea and Arsenal this weekend but the order remains a very tall one. Nothing to be done, though, but give it our best shot in the games to come.

Man of the Match: Victor Anichebe

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton kicked off in bright sunshine but a hoof up field lost possession and Spurs attacked down the left, Vertonghen whipping in a vicious cross that got behind a sleepy Everton defence and Adebayor had no problem in finishing through Howard's legs, 33 seconds gone.

Everton were stunned... but forced their first corner inside 5 mins; Mirallas sent it high and deep, easy meat for Lloris. The Blues settled and tried to build attacks with a mixture of wing play and long balls. On one clearance, Dawson gave away a gift to Osman whose fantastic opportunity to curl it around Lloris was spurned, the England man firing horribly wide.

Some brilliant play saw Barkley drill in a great cross that was defended behind and Baines's corner deep to th far post was headed down onto the ground and in brilliantly by Phil Jagielka... an excellent goal to put Everton right back in it with barely 15 mins gone.

Both sides were getting some decent possession as the game developed into an intriguing battle, with Barkley trying to make a difference through the middle and Spurs perhaps edging it but making as many mistakes as Everton, Walker getting very annoyed for an overhit pass as they struggled to get behind a more disciplined Everton defence and resorted to taking long shots well high and wide.

Anichebe allowed a nice long free-kick to bounce out harmlessly; he should have done a lot more to control it. And later he looked to do his trademark roll of the defender but lost the ball.

It was an open game, with both sides looking threatening when they went forward but Everton were finding it hard at times to keep possession with the close marking from Spurs and too many lofted balls.

Barkley managed to trip over the ball and tried to retain it as he lay on the ground, leading to the ref calling for a drop ball which neither side would relinquish, and we had the very rare sight these days of a contested drop ball. Anichebe went down for no apparent reason, jarring something.

Barkley was having a tough time of it, getting closely marked and losing possession, but the Blues were really struggling at times to play their joined-up passing game, Baines not having much joy against Walker. Howard was doing a good job catching Sigurdson's corner's but any development from the back was spoiled by poorly aimed long balls. Everton only 37% possession in the first half.

Anichebe was fit enough to resume after the break as Spurs came out of the gate with guns blazing, denying Everton any meaningful possession, made worse by the increasing tendency to hoof it forward. Baines did get free on the left but delayed his cross, and the Blues were pushed back again, as Moyes decided to switch things up, hauling off Barkley, who had had something of a 'mare in all honestly, But a bit of work down the right set up Gibson for a shot that he drilled just wide as Barkley trotted off and Jelavic came on.

From the restart, And after intercepting the clearance and exchanging balls with Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas made a great run in from the right, beating three defenders and driving brilliantly in across Lloris to the far post, another top class goal.

It was end to end, then, with Dembele firing one in that was deflected wicked and kicked up miraculously off Howard's arm onto the face of the crossbar!! Then Mirallas got free again and tried to play in Jelavic with Osman a little slow running in.

Spurs upped the pressure, if that was at all possible, pushing Everton back again and again as they sought an equalizeer but could find no way through the strong and disciplined defensive wall formed by the Blues defense.

A short corner from Mirallas led to a great piece of play and almost a goal, Heitinga denied by a defender's boot, while at the other end, Howard had to punch away a shot and defenders blocked a series of shots as the pressure notched up once more, the atmosphere and intensity approaching boiling point with 25 mins still left in an absorbing contest. But Spurs weren't really getting close enough, forced into long-distance pot-shots.

Anichebe got a sniff but pulled is shot past the post, somehow winning a corner that was defended away. Then Anichebe forced the play forward and seemed to have fed Jelavic but the Croatian was flagged marginally offside.

Walker should have been carded for manhandling Baines as Huddlestone came on for Dembele. Gibson committed a poor foul from behind and was lucky not to get a card as a number of Spurs set-pieces were repelled. The card, though, went to Mirallas for an ankle tap on Parker but the free-kick was nicely straight at Howard.

Everton then made an increasingly rare attack in which Jelavic bullishly chased down the ball, Mirallas then feeding Anichebe for a distant shot that flew just wide. Dempsey then got yellow for making his fall look like a dive. Osman, with the whole field ahead of him, ran the ball bizarrely into touch. Naismith came on for Mirallas and that signalled the breakthrough for Spurs, Adebayor firing off the post and Sigurdson buriing it from the other side. Determined resistance finally broken, as seemed almost inevitable at times given the surrendered possession all over the field.

Spurs continued to press, but at the other end, Anichebe should have done better when he got past a defender but could not get the ball by Lloris. More desperate defending by Everton ended with Gibson releasing Jelavic who had a glorious chance to seal it or set up Gibson but he fired straight at Lloris.

A late corner for Spurs in added time saw head tennis and finally a clearance that allowed Anichebe to win a good free kick on the left side of the Spurs penalty area. Baines curled it to the far post where Lloris grasped it to end the game. If ever there was a draw snatched from the jaws of Victory. Two points lost, and surely the final nail in any lingering Champions League dreams...

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Everton's season moves into its crucial phase as they travel down to the Capital for the first of four difficult away games that will surely be definitive in their quest for European qualification.

Sunday's trip to White Hart Lane precedes visits to the Emirates Stadium, Anfield and Stamford Bridge between now and the end of the campaign which means that the Blues' hopes of qualifying for the Europea League and even the Champions League are very much in their own hands. At the start of the play this weekend, David Moyes's side are four points behind Chelsea in fourth and six adrift of Spurs in third, with a game in hand.

The size of the task shouldn't escape anyone; Everton haven't won in North London since beating Spurs in the 2008/09 campaign and, of course, Moyes hasn't overseen a Premier League victory on Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea's turf yet. And yet, while the points are there to be won, everything is possible, particularly if the Blues can spring a surprise at White Hart Lane this weekend.

Much of the focus in the build-up to this one rightly centred on Gareth Bale. The Welshman has had a scintillating season for Spurs and is understandably in the running for player of the year but an awkward roll of his ankle against FC Basel in the European Cup on Thursday means that Andre Villas-Boas will be without his most potent weapon this weekend.

His absence compounds the Londoners' injury woes —Jermaine Defoe, Aaron Lennon and William Gallas are also all ruled out — and provides Everton with extra incentive and more than evens up the stakes seeing as the Blues are without suspended duo, Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar.

Of chief concern for Evertonians, though, is Kevin Mirallas who apparently strained his groin against Stoke last weekend before being substituted with 10 minutes to go and is rated by Moyes as "touch and go" for Sunday. The Belgian has been the Blues' most effective attacking force in recent weeks and, just as he was last weekend, could be the difference for Everton if he is passed fit.

Whether Mirallas makes it or not, Moyes will likely revert to his favoured 4-4-1-1 formation after experimenting with a three-man back line against Stoke. That will probably see John Heitinga drop back to the bench but the manager has another decision to make up front where it's unlikely he will fancy fielding Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe together, unless the latter is deployed on one of the flanks.

Steven Naismith in right midfield or Phil Neville at right back with Seamus Coleman pushed forward are also options as Moyes plots a win that would really set the cat among the pigeons should he be able to pull it off.

Lyndon Lloyd

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  Parker (89' Carroll)
  Dembele (75' Huddlestone)
  Dempsey booked
  Subs not used

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Barkley (52' Jelavic)
  Mirallas booked (86' Naismith)
  Subs not used
  Bidwell (loan)
  Gueye (loan)
  Hammar (loan)
  Lundstram (loan)
  Fellaini (suspended)
  Pienaar (suspended)

Premier League Scores
Norwich 2-2 Swansea
Reading 0-2 So'ton
Stoke City 1-3 Aston Vila
West Brom 1-2 Arsenal
Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland
Liverpool 0-0 West Ham
Newcastle 1-0 Fulham
QPR 1-1 Wigan
Tottenham 2-2 Everton
Man Uinted 1-2 Man City


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