If this is a Premier League season characterised by just how many teams seem to be conspiring to underwhelm, Tottenham, and Roberto Soldado in particular, will hope this brilliantly won and well deserved win marks a turning point.
So far, this is the season where the big four - whoever they are nowadays - have left the door wide open. But neither of these two teams who fought out a quite brilliant battle on the White Hart Lane pitch have seemed inclined to walk through it.
If both sides can hold on to the intent they showed today, the challenge is on.
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Everton 1 - Player Ratings
It was dynamic stuff, right from the start, though Everton started the brighter, keeping the ball low, keeping possession and moving it all around the pitch. Their lead which came in the fifteenth minute was as deserving as it was spectacular.
Tottenham shouldn’t have given away a free kick, and they should have done better to clear it, but when the ball feel to Kevin Mirallas a couple yards outside the box he cut inside and bent the ball high and wide around Hugh Lloris in the Tottenham net, kissing the underside of the bar as it went in.
Mirallas’s subdued celebrations and the gentle clapping from the bench, showed they knew there was a long, long way to go. Their instincts were right, and it took them merely six minutes to find out for certain.
Harry Kane drove towards the box and fired in a powerful shot which Tim Howard could only parry out to his right. There it was met by Christian Eriksen who showed quite remarkable composure to lift it over the onrushing Everton defence and the sprawling Howard, and into the bottom right corner.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino called on the Spurs crowd - unusually quiet at what is among the Premier League’s loudest grounds - to raise the volume, and an already fast and dynamic encounter rose to a new level.
It was end to end stuff. In an enthralling twenty five minutes it was hard to know where even the solitary minute of time added on had come from, but Spurs put it to good use. Aaron Lennon, who had run without stopping for the first forty five minutes carried the ball towards the Everton defence then played it in behind them to Soldado, who placed a clever finish past Tim Howard to give his side the lead.
It was his first league goal of the season, his first since March, and only his seventh since he arrived from Valencia last season with a large price tag and a big reputation that has since shrivelled at high speed. It was an important goal.
But it was around Harry Kane that the Spurs first half ascendancy had revolved. The local 21 year old from the Tottenham Academy beloved by the White Hart Lane crowd and with good reason. He played with all the confidence of a talented young man, feeling, seeing and hearing the club he loves fall in love with him. With Lennon, Eriksen and Lennon zipping all around him in the final third, Everton struggled to contain them.
Before Soldado’s strike, more goals had seemed certain, from both sides. But amidst all the intelligent attacking it was an error from Besic in the Everton midfield that led to the best opportunity. A poorly timed header header back to Tim Howard instead fell in to the path of Soldado who tried to lift it over the Everton keeper, but succeeded only in nudging it back in to his waiting gloves.
Though Tottenham could hardly claim to have contained them, Everton’s potency withered in a far less entertaining second half. The often irrepressible Lukaku became static and his touch - rare though it was - poor. Jagielka continued to try and bring the ball out from the back, but in front of him lay a sudden lack of purpose and movement.
Going in to the match, Tottenham had recorded two wins and three losses from their last five Premier League games. Everton were undefeated in their last eight in all competitions, including five in the Premier League.
But both were lower in the table than, for example, Arsenal going in to this weekend’s fixtures, who are having their worst ever start to a Premier League season.
With thirteen games now gone, Southampton and West Ham remain above both these sides. But this was the sort of match that showed both certainly have the talent and - probably - the determination to turn that around.
Things are tight in the upper midtable, and both teams knew a win would carry them from ninth or tenth to seventh, and to well within reach of the Champions League places. It is Tottenham who now find themselves in that position. But none of the many clubs now higher in the table than Everton will look forward to playing them.
Soldado was substituted with eight minutes to go, and was warmly applauded by the crowd, the winning goalscorer. This is a man who has spent much of the last twelve months playing in the reserves, when former manager Tim Sherwood decided he preferred Emmanuel Adebayor. He has not complained, nor set in chain any machinations to leave the club, just done his best to get back. If this goal can mark the start of that process, it could prove to have been as important for his club as it was for him.Reuse content