Howard bars way as Spurs draw blank

Everton 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0
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The Independent Online

Given his half-hearted approach to this season's Uefa Cup campaign, at least Harry Redknapp is honest enough to admit that a place in next season's new Europa League would probably become a similarly unwelcome distraction from domestic business. At this rate, however, it will not be a concern. After Fulham's convincing win over Aston Villa, Tottenham's chances of qualifying through seventh place in the table are looking slim.

The result might be more damaging to Everton, who are already guaranteed their place in the new competition but who can spare themselves one of the qualifying rounds if they finish in fifth place, ahead of Villa.

Tottenham arrived at Goodison with six wins in their last nine matches but have not been in the habit of scoring hatfuls of goals and against an Everton who do not readily concede – Tim Howard's 16th clean sheet of the season is a club record – the outcome could have been predicted.

It was hard at times not to dispel a feeling that there was nothing much at stake. Even the Tottenham fans were amused by Heurelho Gomes as he tried in vain to correct the impression that he could blunder horrifically at any moment.

The Brazilian goalkeeper frequently had the crowd on the edge of their seats, at one moment dribbling the ball unconvincingly around his compatriot, the Everton striker Jo, at another leaping through the air towards a ball that his plainly anxious team-mate, Jonathan Woodgate, had already hacked away for a corner. Dropped crosses were simply routine.

But there were serious moments. With Redknapp lining his players up in the 3-4-1-2 formation with which he won 3-0 at Goodison with Portsmouth last August, Tottenham appeared at first to have Everton's measure. Luka Modric pulled the strings from behind the front two and it was only the home side's alert defending that prevented an early goal.

Towards half-time, however, Everton began to fight back. On 41 minutes, Jo took the ball past Gomes after Stephen Pienaar's pass had created the clearest chance to that point. Ledley King's block saved the moment for Tottenham.

More openings followed. Marouane Fellaini and the youngster Jack Rodwell both went close before half-time and Tim Cahill only just missed the target with a fine, swerving drive soon after the break. Dan Gosling, about to be replaced by Leon Osman after 69 minutes, hit a post after a weak Gomes punch failed to clear a dangerous cross.

Everton looked the likelier side to force the issue, even if ultimately it proved beyond them. "I thought Spurs were very good in the opening 30 minutes, we found it difficult to stay with them," said their manager David Moyes. "But we pegged it back and in the second half we played well and were unfortunate not to win."

Redknapp said: "I thought it was a fair result, there were not a lot of chances for both sides."

Attendance: 36,646

Referee: Lee Mason

Man of the match: Pienaar

Match rating: 5/10

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