Football’s first big Friday night out post-lockdown in England was set at Goodison Park in a tale of defensive calamity from Everton, who helped balloon Harry Kane’s goal tally and quieten the noise around Jose Mourinho’s position.
The England striker limped off the field in the final minutes with a suspected ankle injury, which will not lighten the mood around Spurs nor be welcomed by Gareth Southgate.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men, who had won just one of their previous eight Premier League home matches, conspired against themselves to increase that statistic.
Mistakes from Michael Keane assisted Kane’s opener and his equaliser to cancel out Gylfi Sigurdsson’s double.
Spurs arrived on Merseyside having dropped 18 points from winning positions in the top-flight this season and with a struggle for goals on the road. Eleven of their 26 away goals prior to kick off came in their first two games.
Since then, they had scored just 15 times in their 14 top-flight trips. And it was easy to see why as their attacking ambition was in quarantine for large spells here.
Everton were without their talisman, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but were the dominant force in a mostly dormant opening period.
Tottenham were without offensive endeavour, something Mourinho divorces as a consequence of his management.
It took 22 minutes for a final-third move of any merit to materialise at Goodison.
James Rodriguez released Richarlison down the inside left and the Brazilian took a touch, opened his body and sent a curler towards the bottom right. Hugo Lloris was equal to it, getting down to parry the danger.
Tottenham had offered absolutely nothing, but suddenly, they were ahead. Tanguy Ndombele crossed from the left, which Keane failed head clear.
The ball dropped to an unmarked Kane, eight yards out. The forward controlled, spun and found the bottom left. Having not earned anything, Spurs had something.
If the opener was a shock given the lethargic state of the game, that Tottenham conceded so soon after it was no big surprise. They had let a lead slip in three of their prior five fixtures, although the circumstances at Goodison was contentious.
Rodriguez was preparing to connect with a Gylfi Sigurdsson cross, before a tangle with Sergio Reguilon in the area. The Tottenham defender looked to have clipped him from behind and referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty. A soft decision? A smart one? The limited replays available here weren’t clear and the VAR didn’t interfere. Sigurdsson slotted in the bottom right with Lloris diving the other way.
Everton ended the half much stronger, with Kane’s goal the only shot of any kind from Spurs.
The hosts started the second stanza in the ascendancy too, with Rodriguez and Richarlison upping the menace in the absence of Calvert-Lewin.
Spurs were bystanders for a while and then suddenly, the restricted Son sparked into life. He dropped a shoulder to manoeuvre past Keane down the left before trying to oust Jordan Pickford at his near post from a tight angle. The goalkeeper pushed the effort around the post and Everton were headless during the ensuing corner, but there was no break for Tottenham.
A rare spell of pressure from them continued with Ndombele’s deflected effort just clearing a stranded Pickford and the bar. Toby Alderweireld then headed the corner towards the top right, but it was just wide, brushing the side of the post.
Everton punctured that spell by getting the goal their greater enterprise deserved. Seamus Coleman, just on as a substitute, played a one-two with Richarlison. The full-back steamed down the right, pulling the ball back low for Sigurdsson to hit as the midfielder rushed into the box. He met the glorious delivery first time, side-footing with authority.
It was the kind of move that would’ve heightened the pressure on Mourinho, but Everton’s tactic of gifting Kane a goal was to the Portuguese’s relief.
Six minutes after Everton pulled ahead, Erik Lamela crossed from the right. Keane’s clearing header ricocheted off Ben Godfrey’s behind to Kane – again with time and space in the box – who dispatched a wicked a first-time effort into the top left.
The encounter ended level and horrendous defending will detract from what a shell of their progressive selves this Spurs team has become.
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