Tottenham 2 Everton 2 match report: Andres Villas-Boas denies Spurs are spooked by 'ghosts' of last season's collapse

Spurs are faltering at the wrong time

White Hart Lane

Tottenham Hotspur, with tiring legs and limited options, stumbled again yesterday as they rounded the final bend of an exhausting season. They needed a Gylfi Sigurdsson equaliser with three minutes left to rescue a draw which left them still in fourth place in the Premier League but precariously so. Chelsea are ahead, Arsenal close behind and, on the evidence of this performance, Everton will continue to fight too.

Spurs fans may sense worrying echoes of last season’s late collapse, but their manager Andre Villas-Boas insisted: “We don’t look at ghosts in the past.”

This was a game entirely befitting the stakes, with everything anyone could ever want from a Premier League match. There was an early goal, a controversial goal, a brilliant goal and a late goal. Both sides held the lead.

The football was quick, tense, muscular and competitive; there was even a contested drop-ball.Given the timing of their second goal, Spurs could not be too disappointed with their point. But, having lost their last home league game, a win was really required.

“It is important for us to salvage a point because, against teams who fight for the same objectives, the only thing you cannot do is lose,” Villas-Boas said. “It was a good performance but not the result that we wanted.”

Spurs, after Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Basle, have now struggled at home twice in four days. There is a real sense, though Villas-Boas denied it, that there is not an awful lot left in the tank, with the midfield pair of Scott Parker and Mousa Dembélé increasingly weary.

This was Tottenham’s first game since the injuries to Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale and they were desperately short of pace and width for much of the afternoon. It is banal to say Spurs missed Bale but, as they trailed for 34 second-half minutes, they looked like a side waiting to be saved by their heroic No 11.

There was a lanky, explosive winger with that number on his back and he scored a brilliant goal, but it was Kevin Mirallas and he was playing in blue. Mirallas, like every other Everton player, performed with courage and focus. He also provided the game’s singular moment of quality, eight minutes into the second half.Mirallas received the ball from Victor Anichebe, who was unplayable throughout, just inside Spurs’ half on the right. He breezed past Parker, cut inside Steven Caulker, went back outside Caulker and shot low across keeper Hugo Lloris and into the far bottom corner to put Everton 2-1 up.

“Mirallas scored a Gareth Bale goal,” said the Everton manager, David Moyes. “He scored one the other week against Stoke too. Or maybe Gareth Bale’s been scoring Kevin Mirallas goals.”

Everton had done well to pull themselves back into the game after conceding after just 35 seconds. Spurs were keen to impose themselves quickly and scored with their first movement, Emmanuel Adebayor connecting with Jan Vertonghen’s perfectly curled cross from the left wing.

But just four weeks after their evisceration at home by Wigan Athletic, Everton have rediscovered their essence and even without Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini they got straight back up. “It was great credit to the players they never buckled after the first goal,” said Moyes.

Phil Jagielka headed in their equaliser, clambering over Vertonghen at the far post from Leighton Baines’s corner. Once level, Everton were far tighter, with Jonny Heitinga and Darron Gibson working hard in midfield. Dembélé, Clint Dempsey and Lewis Holtby shot wide from distance late in the first half but Spurs could not create anything better.

Everton started the second half stronger and, once ahead, they defended their lead smartly. Tim Howard turned a Dembélé shot onto the bar but Everton could repel most of what Spurs might throw at them. The home crowd was anxious and when Dembélé was taken off for Tom Huddlestone they were far from impressed.

It was left to Kyle Walker, taking responsibility and finally providing some width, to bring Spurs’ equaliser. With three minutes left he burst past Baines down the right and swung in a cross. Dempsey left it, Adebayor controlled and shot against the post, Sigurdsson tapped in the rebound.

Bookings: Tottenham Dempsey. Everton Mirallas.

Man of the match Anichebe.

Match rating 9/10.

Possession: Tottenham 62%. Everton 38%.

Attempts on target: Tottenham 7. Everton 4.

Referee A Marriner (West Midlands).

Attendance 36,192.

Race for top four: Key encounters

April:

16: Arsenal v Everton

After a good weekend for Wenger’s men, Arsenal could put more pressure on Spurs, who do not play again until the following week.

21: Liverpool v Chelsea

Liverpool would slip out of contention with a defeat, while a Chelsea win would ease their concerns.

May:

4: Liverpool v Everton

The Merseyside derby could be pivotal, though a battle for a Europa League spot is more probable.

TBC: Tottenham v Chelsea

The rearranged fixture may be decisive in the race for fourth.

19:

Newcastle v Arsenal

Chelsea v Everton

Tottenham v Sunderland

Liverpool v QPR

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project