Howard claims early World Cup edge

Everton 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2: American keeper saves stoppage-time penalty from England striker Jermain Defoe as Everton fight back to deny Spurs victory at Goodison Park
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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp was so traumatised that he couldn't drag his eyes away from the television set, having clambered up to the Everton press room last night. Sky's Richard Keys started talking about "naughty Tottenham" so someone turned the volume down but Redknapp, immune to all questions, just gazed at the silent pictures and the arrows Andy Gray was drawing on them for his inquisition into how Tottenham, who had leapt ahead of Arsenal to take third place in Premier League by 5.45pm, had by 6pm thrown away the position, a 2-0 lead and a fairly lucky penalty which gave them a chance to atone.

No-one could blame Redknapp for being surprised by the source of the first Everton goal and by one of those famous Goodison Park comebacks which makes you wonder why they ever wanted to decamp to a Tesco complex in the first place. The man featuring heavily in Gray's diagrams was 21-year-old Irishman Seamus Coleman, who after only 15 minutes yesterday found himself filling another of the holes left by Everton's gaping injury list when Joseph Yobo limped off nursing a strained hamstring. Coleman, a defender who cost Moyes £150,000, skipped past Gareth Bale, a defender who cost Tottenham an initial £5m, before crossing for Louis Saha to volley Everton back to 2-1.

Redknapp was phlegmatic when he got down to the task in hand, talking about it being "a one-off day ... these things happen ... we got casual." But he cited Arsenal throwing away a two-goal lead at West Ham in August, which was more significant than intended. Arsenal, like Liverpool and Manchester City, can't defend too well either. If one more of them are to reach or remain in the top four – and it might yet be Tottenham, who attacked with a force here at times which made you see how they made monkeys of Wigan – then that particular mystery might need solving.

Everton played a memorable part, though, in a comeback which reaffirmed the lesson of last Sunday's Merseyside derby: that they have too many individual talents for talk of relegation battles ahead. Even the striker Moyes calls "Brazilian Jo" is catching on. He was a force here, the chest control, spin and shot which skimmed across the turf and narrowly wide of Heurelho Gomes's left-hand post a first-half reminder of why he was not considered quite so useless at CSKA Moscow.

Spurs threatened most though, especially down their right flank, where Aaron Lennon against Leighton Baines was a match made in heaven for the winger. In brief bursts they – and Jermain Defoe, in particular – looked the top-four side they want to be. Several chances came and went.

But Coleman, whose arrival saw Lucas Neill shifting right to assume Yobo's place in central defence, quickly threatened too. Twice he beat Benoit Assou-Ekotto down the right, the second occasion forcing a frantic clearance from Vedran Corluka in front of Gomes. Assou-Ekotto then motivated Everton even more after placing his studs in the back of Tim Cahill's neck in the course of losing one 50-50 challenge. Some handbags followed, after which Marouane Fellaini was unfortunate to be booked. Redknapp decided, wrongly as it transpired, that Bale would be a safer bet after the interval.

Spurs duly found themselves ahead 70 seconds after the restart. Tim Howard beat Crouch to a cross but the ball landed with Lennon, who placed a clever low cross at the near post which Defoe, comfortably losing his marker Hibbert, allowed to bounce just in front of him before nudging in. The points seemed sealed when Dawson, slipping away from Neill just as easily, headed Kranjcar's corner into the back of the net just short of the hour.

It should have been three for the visitors when Kranjcar played Crouch in behind Neill and the striker placed his shot under the advancing Howard but pushed it wide. A fateful moment, since Everton, with Louis Saha and Yukubu sent into the fray, came charging back. Coleman set up Saha's sweet left-foot volley and when the Frenchman leapt acrobatically to send an overhead kick from Pienaar's cross wide, Everton sensed an equaliser. It arrived in a messy period of pinball, started by a poor clearance from Wilson Palacios, which ended when Tim Cahill ducked down to head home a Leighton Baines shot masquerading as a cross.

The drama was not complete, though. Crouch headed down a high injury-time ball into the area for Palacios, who clashed with Tony Hibbert as the defender ran in to challenge him. Palacios was stretched off for hospital treatment to his ribs and Defoe, in Robbie Keane's absence, stepped up for the penalty. Howard dived to his right and saved it with his legs as Defoe aimed straight. Howard kicked his own post in unremitting delight. Redknapp probably kicked the cat last night.

Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neill, Yobo (Coleman, 15), Hibbert, Yobo, Baines; Pienaar, Fellaini, Rodwell (Yakubu, 62), Bilyaletdinov; Cahill; Jo (Saha, 62). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Duffy, Agard, Baxter.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto (Bale, 45); Lennon, Huddlestone, Palacios (Hutton, 90) Krancjar (Jenas, 87); Crouch, Defoe. Substitutes not used: Alnwick, Bales, Bentley, Jenas, keane, Pavlyuchenko.

Referee: A Marriner (Birmingham).

Booked: Everton Baine, Rodwell, Fellaini, Cahill; Tottenham Dawson, Assou-Eketto, Huddlestone, Bale.

Man of the Match: Pienaar.

Attendance: 34,003.