Spurs throw away two goal lead at Everton

Everton 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2
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The Independent Football

Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe missed a stoppage time penalty as his side threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with a struggling Everton side in the Premier League today.

Defoe had put Spurs ahead two minutes into the second half and Michael Dawson doubled their advantage with more than half an hour remaining at Goodison Park.

But substitute striker Louis Saha began Everton's comeback with a 78th-minute goal and Australian midfielder Tim Cahill grabbed the equalizer on his 30th birthday to end the club's three-match losing streak in the league.

"We've had a bit of bad luck so it was nice to get that draw," Cahill said.

Referee Andre Marriner gave Spurs a chance to reclaim the lead when he penalized Tony Hibbert for fouling Wilson Palacios in the penalty area.

But Defoe saw his tame spot kick saved by goalkeeper Tim Howard, who the striker could face again in England's World Cup opener against the United States next June.

"Louis Saha gave me a word of advice before the penalty," Howard said. "I knew what to expect, but he tipped me off a little bit. There's so much video now that there's not one penalty you can't see."

The draw kept Tottenham in fourth place, one point behind Arsenal, which has a game in hand over its north London rival.

In Sunday's other match, Fulham moved back into the top half of the standings by beating Sunderland 1-0.

Chelsea's lead at the top was trimmed to two points Saturday when Carlo Ancelotti's side lost 2-1 at Manchester City and second-place Manchester United won 4-0 at West Ham.

While Chelsea and United have broken away from the chasing pack, Arsenal and Tottenham have stiff competition for the next two Champions League spots.

Since Spurs thrashed Wigan 9-1, they have now drawn twice and it took them until the start of the second half to finally breach the defense of injury-hit Everton.

Aaron Lennon whipped in a cross from the right and Defoe nipped in front of Hibbert, who was slow to react, at the near post to score his 12th league goal of the season.

And from Niko Kranjcar's 59th-minute corner, Lucas Neill allowed Dawson to escape him in the penalty area and the center back dived low to score in successive league matches.

The goal prompted a double attack-minded change from Everton manager David Moyes, with Saha and Ayegbeni Yakubu replacing Jo and Jack Rodwell.

Gareth Bale came close to curling in Tottenham's third from a free kick, but then was easily beaten back in defense by 21-year-old right back Seamus Coleman. The defender crossed to Saha, who beat goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes at the near post.

Saha went close to leveling with an overhead kick, but Cahill succeeded with a low header from Leighton Baines' cross in the 86th minute to earn Everton's first point since October. The club lies 15th in the standings with 16 points, three points above the relegation zone.

At Craven Cottage, former Tottenham striker Bobby Zamora exploited poor defending to meet John Pantsil's cross in the seventh minute and score his sixth goal of the season.

"In the first half he was magnificent, in the second half he didn't get the service. But he was a constant thorn in Sunderland's side," Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said. "I thought his performance was good throughout and he was a major factor in our victory."

The victory lifts Fulham above Sunderland to eighth in the standings, two points below Liverpool.