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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Sunday 24 May 2015; 3:00pm
Everton 
0 1
 Tottenham
 
Half Time: 0 - 1
Kane (23') 
Attendance:39,365
Fixture 38
Referee: Jonathan Moss

Match Report

In the context of the season upon which it brought the curtain down, this meeing with Tottenham was essentially meaningless except perhaps the 1.2m it cost the club in Premier League merit revenue between finishing 10th and 11th, and the manner in which it epitomised a lost domestic campaign.

If it was in any way supposed to be a look to the future, however, it provided an unsettling glimpse into just how much 2015-16 will be a repeat of the misery Evertonians have endured on the domestic front this season if there isn't some serious investment on the playing side and a re-examination of what goes on on the training pitch under Roberto Martinez.

Decked out in the new home kit, boasting a line-up close to full strength (when you remove the perpetually injured Steven Pienaar from the equation), and coming off an uplifting win at West Ham, this was an opportunity to send the supporters into the close season on an optimistic note.

Unfortunately, it underscored in many ways why Everton have finished a season in the bottom half of the table for the first time in nine years. They were inferior in almost every department against a Spurs side that was quicker, slicker and hungrier for three points that ensured it was they who finish in the fifth position occupied by the Blues this time last year.

Mauricio Pochettino's men were better on the ball and passed it with ease at times through Everton's midfield, while the home side laboured to play enough joined-up football to provide the link between a familiarly isolated Romelu Lukaku and a midfield lacking in the kind of guile and imagination that someone like the absent Pienaar can provide.

Martinez spoke before the game of how pleased he is with the core of his team and his desire to bring in three or four but this final defeat in a campaign that featured 15 of them in the Premier League illustrated that a few targeted signings might not be enough. The Catalan's much-vaunted free-flowing and attacking style has eroded away over a demoralising campaign and the movement and touches displayed by the visitors shows where the work needs to be done at Finch Farm.

Indeed, Everton struggled at times to cope with that movement, particuarly in the first half where they ceded the bulk of possession to their opponents but without any of the space they enjoyed on the counter-attack in the recent win over Manchester United. Their passing was noticeably less crisp and precise than Tottenham's and it was worrying how easily they were being contained and then played through by the likes of Christian Eriksen, Ryan Mason, Moussa Dembele and Nasir Chadli.

And yet, after home debutant Brendan Galloway's blushes had been saved by Tim Howard the American made an excellent reflex save to deny Erik Lamela following Galloway's giveaway in the middle of the park it was the Blues who should have taken the lead. Ross Barkley slipped the Belgian in behind the Tottenham defence with a superbly-weighted ball but Kevin Mirallas, starting in place of the ineligble Aaron Lennon and usually so deadly in one-on-one situations, could only place a side-foot shot that Hugo Lloris easily smothered down to his left.

He almost made amends with a clever juggle of the ball past his marker and a dipping volley bar five minutes later but his effort flew narrowly over.

Instead it was Spurs who broke the deadlock in infuriatingly simple fashion, exploiting Everton's "Achilles heel" of the deep cross from wide positions. With both Leon Osman and Galloway caught tucked too far infield, Eric Dier had space to exploit down Tottenham's right flank and his whipped centre found Harry Kane who had the simple task of steering a header past Howard.

Everton were slow to respond but got one opportunity late in the half when Lloris went walkabout out of his six-yard box to chase down the ball at Mirallas's feet but the winger couldn't curl his shot on target from the tight angle in order to beat the defenders who had retreated to protect the goal line.

Having seen one too many stray passes from Ross Barkley in the first 45 minutes, Martinez elected to change things up at half time by withrawing the 21 year-old and replacing him with Muhamed Besic and the Bosnian would have the Blues' first crack at goal with a 25-yard shot that skidded wide of the far post.

Osman then dropped a volley a few yards wide and a determined run by Galloway through the heart of the opposition defence almost resulted in him prodding the ball past Lloris but the Frenchman had come off his line smartly to snuff out the danger.

Unfortunately, what has been a promising display in the first quarter of an hour after the interval ebbed as Tottenham re-established control and for a few minutes were merely toying with their hosts, the away fans chanting "ole" at every successful pass until their passage of possession went on for so long that even they got bored.

Gareth Barry was then easily beaten to a loose ball by Kane and Eriksen's deflected shot looped dangerously over the bar before Chadli had a similar effort blocked by a combination of lunging tackles from John Stones and Galloway as Spurs threatened to extend their lead.

Martinez's last act would be to complete a laudible u-turn by giving Sylvain Distin a late cameo as a substitute in place of Galloway but first he withdrew Mirallas in favour of Steven Naismith, another moment that underlined the paucity of genuine quality in the Blues's side.

A hitherto fairly benign contest turned more fractious as the Scot channeled his determination and frustration into niggly fouls and infractions and despite a late flurry in which Distin did his utmost to try and cap his farewell with an equaliser, a Stones header that drifted wide was all the Blues could muster.

Like so many games before it this season, this was a performance in which Lukaku was starved of service and was not given a single chance in front of goal in 90 minutes to add to his tally of 20 goals for the season. The Belgian showed evidence that he has been working on his ability in the air when challenging defenders for high balls but was not given much opportunity beyond that to shine, adding more frustration to a disappointing defeat.

Martinez acknowledged after the match that his side had been second best throughout but he now gets a full summer programme to work with his players to try and rediscover the magic that he produced in his first season with the club. Whether it's a matter of confidence, training or an influx of fresh blood, Everton need something before the start of next season, one that could be huge for the Catalan personally in terms of his ability to take the club forward again.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Summary

At stake in this final game was confirmation of a top-half finish for Everton, after a disappointing season that failed to carry forward the tremendous impetus set by Roberto Martinez in his record-breaking first season. One person who clearly won't be playing for Everton next season is Luke Garbutt, who played no part today, effectively confirming that he will leave the club after not accepting a new contract.

For Spurs, it was a question of playing for 5th, where Everton finished last season, with Eric Dier getting a rare start against the club where he was loan a few seasons ago.

It was fairly open stuff from the kick-off Spurs running at Everton, who tried to work the ball forward with pace to Mirallas down the right, but the game settled into a midfield tussle. Lamela was the first to have anything like a strike on goal.

Osman did give Mirallas a nice ball to run onto down the left but his cross was poor, straight to Lloris, with Lukaku lurking. Mason skipped through the middle of the Everton defence, and ran into Jagielka, as Spurs were playing the more adventurous football. Spurs started to edge things more noticeably Kane winning their first corner.

Barkley tried to pick out Lukaku with an ambitious crossfield pass but it was overhit and Spurs were running at Everton again. Barkley again tries to play the ball forward but it was ccut out too easily. Galloway's cross was also overhit as the Blues were not really clicking, as Galloway made a horrible mistake and Lamela came so close to scoring, Howard parrying the shot and scrambling back to stop the ball creeping inside the post.

Barkley played in an excellent ball for Mirallas to run onto with only Lloris to beat but his shot was weak and easily saved. Dier played in an inviting ball for Kane but the final touch was beyond him. At the other end Mirallas came so close to a brilliant goal, juggling a ball before firing a crisp half-volley

But Spurs had been threatening with every attack and Dier was given plenty of space on the right for a pinpoint cross that Kane scored from with consummate ease.

The crowd expected Everton to respond, but hesitancy by McCarthy was not what they wanted to see as the groans rang out and Spurs surged at the Blues again. Some rare Blues possession predictably went nowhere, ending with an overhit cross, and more poor play from McCarthy. Everton were simply not at the races.

The shocking game Everton were playing was summarized by a dreadful and completely unnecessary backpass by Barkley straight to Harry Kane. Luckily, he failed to profit. But whenever Everton had the ball, it seemed Spurs had 15 players on the field, such was their effectiveness in closing down space, and intercepting Everton passes. Mirallas got the ball out right but his early shot was very poor.

It seemed an age before Lukaku got his first touch but the big man lacked any confidence that he could beat Vertongen, and Spurs were back on the ball and threatening. Galloway was involved a lot but having something of a nightmare. Too many moments in the game summed up Everton's lack of commitment, Lukaku choosing to watch a ball forward from Howard without making any effort to attack the bouncing ball.

Galloway did better to play in Mirallas who drew Lloris out of his goal but then chose to play a difficult chip onto the roof of the net rather than pick out Lukaku. Stones was the only Everton player earning his crust with some imperious defensive play to keep the score down as the opponents seemed to run at will toward the Everton goal.

A better play, right on half-time saw Barlkely and Osman combine superbly to play in Coleman whose narrow angle shot was parried away by Lloris. It was not enough to stiffle a chorus of well-deserved boos for a largely inept half from Everton not quite as bad as Liverpool, who were 5-0 down at Stoke!

Martinez reacted to the poor display by hauling off Barkley at the break, and putting Mohamed Besic on in his place. Besic was quick to fire in a potshot that curled away from Lloris and the Spurs goal. But Everton were doing better, Mirallas firing wide before Galloway tried to force his way through on Lloris.

Everton were putting in a lot more effort and now taking the game far more effectively to Spurs, forcing Pochettino to make an early change in Stambouli replacing Dembele.Stones was doing well, bringing the ball out of defence impressively. But a good move ended when Besic badly overhit his cross after some more accurate passing.

After a good 15 minutes from Everton, Spurs then put pressure back on the Blues defence, winning a corner that Fazio headed wide.

Everton won their first corner that was delivered in well but Lloris picked it out, as the pace of the game slackened in the warm sunshine, and the Blues mistakes crept back in. Galloway set Mirallas free and his mazy run ended in what looked like a foul just inside the Spurs area but Moss said No.

Lukaku did well to get to the byeline but then wasted his shot in Mirallas style, firing over Lloris the gaol, and all the other players. It was Mirallas who then made way for Steven Naismith. Jagielka was booked for a slightly late sliding tackle.

Sylvain Distin was given a tremendous cheer by the Goodison faithful when he came on for his final Everton appearance, replacing Galloway who had played very well despite making a couple of mistakes.

The game fizzled out with Everton being denied that top-half finish, Crystal Palace edging them out, a disappointing end to a very disappointing season.

Michael Kenrick

 

Match Preview

Everton hope to sign off their disappointing 2014-15 season on another upbeat note as Tottenham Hotspur come to town on Sunday.

Thanks to Romelu Lukaku's last-minute winner at Upton Patk last weekend, the Blues can ensure a top-10 finish with victory over Mauricio Pochettino's side providing West Ham don't beat relegation-threatened Newcastle by a wider margin at St James' Park. Everton currently edge the Hammers in the table on goals scored.

Given their involvement in the European picture, Spurs's need is a little greater, however. The Londoners have their sights on recording a first win at Goodison Park in eight years and leap-frogging Liverpool into the top Europa League spot in fifth place. They could fall to seventh, however, if they lose and Southampton get any kind of result at Manchester City.

Roberto Martinez restated his desire to finish the season strongly in his pre-match press conference but he will be forced into at least one change to the team that started last Saturday. Aaron Lennon is ineligible to face his parent club and that will create an opening that will likely be filled by either Kevin Mirallas or Aiden McGeady.

Both players came on as substiutes against West Ham but it was the latter who weighed in with the crucial assist for Lukaku's stoppage-time winner and that, combined with his limited playing time in recent weeks due to injury, might be enough to earn him a start.

Mirallas could well start anyway, either on the other side of midfield or playing off the striker if Martinez is feeling adventurous but both Leon Osman and Ross Barkley will be in contention in those spots.

In defence, it would not be a surprise to see Brendan Galloway handed a home debut at left back after his solid display at Upton Park and the manager has suggested to the media that Sylvain Distin could well get the chance to bid farewell to the home fans after all.

If he gets over a bout of illness, the Frenchman could replace Antolin Alcaraz on the substitutes' bench after the Paraguayan picked up an injury in training. That would provide the opportunity to throw Distin on for a few minutes at the end of what will be his last season with Everton after six years of service.

There is scope for further switches Muhamed Besic hasn't started a game in quite a while now, for example but Martinez probably won't make wholesale changes despite Spurs' chequered away record of late. They won handsomely at Newcastle a month ago but also lost heavily at Manchester United and Stoke, suggesting that Everton could rattle them if they can get out to an early lead.

The debut of the new home kit following its unveiling this past week will add to a general air of looking towards the future at Goodison, an attitude summed up by Tim Howard's assertion to the loal press that there will be no long post-mortem of 2014-15 among the team. The American said that the players will put the current campaign behind them and look towards a fresh start in August.

* Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.

Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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Match Reports
2014-15 Reports Index
< WestHam (A) 2015-16 >
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Coleman
  Stones
  Jagielka
  Galloway (Distin 84')
  Barry
  McCarthy
  Osman
  Barkley (Besic 46')
  Mirallas (Naismith 75')
  Lukaku
  Subs not used
  Robles
  Garbutt
  Atsu
  Kone
  Unavailable
  Alcaraz (injured)
  Baines (injured)
  Gibson (injured)
  Oviedo (injured)
  Pienaar (injured)
  Duffus (injured)
TOTTENHAM (4-4-2)
  Lloris
  Bentaleb
  Fazio
  Vertongen
  Dier
  Dembele (Strombouli 53' )
  Mason
  Eriksen
  Lamela
  Chadli (Soldado 93')
  Kane (Townsend 85')
  Subs not used
  Vorm
  Yedlin
  Winks
  Onomah

Premier League Scores
Saturday
Arsenal 4-1 West Brom
Aston Villa 0-1 Burnley
Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland
C Palace 1-0 Swansea
Everton 0-1 Tottenham
Hull City 0-0 Man United
Leicester 5-1 QPR
Man City 2-0 So'hampton
Newcastle 2-0 West Ham
Stoke 6-1 Liverpool


Team Pts
1 Chelsea 87
2 Manchester City 79
3 Arsenal 75
4 Manchester United 70
5 Tottenham Hotspur 64
6 Liverpool 62
7 Southampton 60
8 Swansea City 56
9 Stoke City 54
10 Crystal Palace 48
11 Everton 47
12 West Ham United 47
13 West Bromwich Albion 44
14 Leicester City 41
15 Newcastle United 39
16 Sunderland 38
17 Aston Villa 38
18 Hull City 35
19 Burnley 33
20 Queens Park Rangers 30

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