Everton 2 Tottenham 1
Everton manager David Moyes is sure the Toffees deserve to be in the top four and they proved that yesterday as late goals from Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic earned the Merseyside club a deserved victory over Champions League-chasing rivals Tottenham.
Everton, usually perennial slow starters, got off to a promising beginning to this campaign which has given them the foundations to build a surprise run for the top four.
Moyes believes Tottenham are the benchmark for those looking to break into the top four as they have done so in two of the previous three seasons and have a squad capable of doing so.
And yesterday, despite a scare, they proved to be better on the day than Andre Villas-Boas’ side.
It did take late goals from Pienaar and Jelavic, however, as Clint Dempsey’s deflected effort looked to have put Spurs on course for a win, while Gylfi Sigurdsson could have secured the victory had his shot not cannoned off the bar before Everton’s equaliser.
“It is early to talk about that qualifying for Europe,” Moyes claimed. “But the position does not shame Everton or the way we have been playing, the way the players have been playing. The players showed great character to keep going. A win like that could lift you.”
Villas-Boas was left to bemoan yet another game in which they lost three points in the dying stages as Spurs would be top of the league if games stopped at 75 minutes owing the amount they have conceded in the final 15 minutes when leading or level.
“It is a disappointing result in the end,” mused Boas. “It has been our adventure so far this season. If we count the number of goals we concede in the last 15 minutes, we would be top.
“So many different reasons [why they conceded late], it is not easy to explain because some come from different situations.”
Tottenham took a few minutes to settle and a powerful low effort from Moussa Dembele was straight down the throat of Tim Howard.
Everton had calls for a penalty just before the break when Dempsey first seemed to control the ball with the top half of his arm, before Pienaar’s cross a minute later looked to have been blocked by Gallas’ arm.
Tottenham were struggling to create chances from open play but Jan Vertonghen’s powerful free-kick gave Howard his first piece of work of the second half.
Marouane Fellaini and Leon Osman both went close again for Everton who looked like they would have to settle for a point as nothing in the final third went for them.
Then Dempsey collected the ball 25 yards from goal before trying a speculative effort that caught Distin, the Everton defender, on the shin before sailing over an outstretched Howard.
Sigurdsson then rattled the bar from outside the area as Everton fans looked on in shock as to how they could be on course for a defeat.
But then Republic of Ireland international Seamus Coleman crossed into the area and found a diving Pienaar who headed past Hugo Lloris.
Some Everton fans were still celebrating when, just 88 seconds later, Coleman’s compatriot Darron Gibson lofted a long ball into the area that Apostolos Vellios directed into the path of Jelavic and the Croatian showed remarkable composure to finish off a goal that moved Everton into the top four.
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard 7; Coleman 7, Jagielka 6, Distin 6, Baines 6; Mirallas 7 (Naismith 46, 6), Gibson 9, Osman 7 (Vellios 81), Pienaar 6; Fellaini 6; Jelavic 8 (Heitinga 93).
TOTTENHAM (4-4-2): Lloris 8, Walker 5, Gallas 6, Caulker 5, Vertonghen 7; Lennon 5 (Huddlestone 72), Sandro 6, Dembele 6 (Sigurdsson 77), Dempsey 6; Adebayor 4, Defoe 5 (Falque 85). Subs Not Used: Friedel, Naughton, Townsend, Livermore.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
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