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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss