Tottenham 0 Everton 2: Johnson ensures Everton plan works to perfection

Jol pursues Downing to solve Tottenham shortcomings
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The Independent Football

Andrew Johnson celebrated his England call-up with a superb performance as 10-man Everton rocked Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Spurs flattered to deceive against the vibrant Toffees and Calum Davenport's 52nd-minute own goal and a 65th-minute second from Johnson set the seal on a miserable afternoon for Martin Jol's side. Johnson, selected for England's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Andorra and Macedonia, was a thorn in Tottenham's side all afternoon as Spurs turned in possibly their worst performance under Jol's control.

Jol's ambition to build on the success of last season's UEFA Cup qualification may be difficult to attain unless he can persuade chairman Daniel Levy to open his chequebook once more. The Merseysiders thwarted the home side by filling their midfield and eradicating the supply line to England winger Aaron Lennon. The tactic worked superbly as Spurs, without a recognised left-winger in their ranks, had no other outlet to undo Everton's well-marshalled rearguard. Spurs had been linked Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing and on the evidence of this lack-lustre performance, Levy would be well advised to make a concerted effort to prise him away from the Riverside.

Spurs were outclassed from start to finish and even after the first-half dismissal of Kevin Kilbane for a second bookable offence, Jol's side had little idea how to make the most of their numerical advantage. Everton had begun the game in confident mood with Leon Osman firing a speculative 20-yard drive wide of Paul Robinson's right-hand post in the fourth minute. Spurs, in contrast, struggled to find their rhythm, particularly in midfield where they often found themselves outnumbered by blue shirts. Consequently, they resorted to hitting elongated passes to Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane and the tactic appeared to work with Spurs winning their first corner in the 14th minute.

However, although they failed to take advantage, Spurs maintained their pressure and Kilbane received his first yellow card for bringing down Young-Pyo Lee as he attempted to gain territory on the right flank. Spurs almost took the lead in the 26th minute when Gary Naysmith was forced to hook the ball against his own crossbar after Lee Carsley had inadvertently deflected a throw-in into his path. But the home side, enjoying a sustained spell of pressure, were beginning to find gaps. Prompted by the pace of Lee and Aaron Lennon on the right flank, there was an ominous intent to their approach play for the first time. That was underlined in the 31st minute when Everton were reduced to 10 men after Kilbane was sent off for a second bookable offence. The Everton winger, who had struggled to match the pace of the overlapping Lee all afternoon, brought him down on the edge of the area and was given his marching orders by Mark Halsey. Tottenham began the second half with renewed enthusiasm but for all their clever approach play, they were unable to make the most of set-pieces. Lennon won a corner within the first minute of the re-start but Dawson's header looped aimlessly over the crossbar.

In the 49th minute, Mikel Arteta squandered a chance for Everton to break the deadlock when he sent his 20-yard free-kick into the crowd behind Paul Robinson's goal. The home side were struggling to take advantage of their extra man and the lively Johnson was giving the Spurs defence some uncomfortable moments. In the 52nd minute he won a free-kick which led to Everton's opener. He got the better of Benoit Assou-Ekotto and the Spurs defender could do nothing but haul him down. Arteta's ball into penalty area was met by the head of Lescott but his effort was of little danger until Davenport deflected the ball past his own goalkeeper to give Everton a deserved lead.

The goal sparked Tottenham into a frenzied response but the final ball, so often lacking in quality in the opening period, was again their downfall. But it got worse for Spurs in the 65th minute as Everton scored a superb second. Osman did well to shepherd the ball from Edgar Davids before supplying Phil Neville on the right. His low cross was met by the outstanding Johnson who celebrated his England call-up in style by slipping the ball beyond Robinson to ensure a fine victory.

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