Saturday 3 December 2016

Spurs show title credentials but have to settle for a draw with battling Everton

Phil Medlicott

Published 03/01/2016 | 18:06

Dele Alli celebrates with team mates after scoring the first goal for Tottenham
Reuters / Andrew Yates
Dele Alli celebrates with team mates after scoring the first goal for Tottenham Reuters / Andrew Yates

Tottenham claimed a point thanks to Dele Alli's volley but may well feel unfortunate not to have taken three as they drew 1-1 with Everton at Goodison Park.

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Although the visitors dominated the first half, they fell behind in the 22nd minute when ex-Spurs man Aaron Lennon smashed the ball home at the end of a fine Everton team move.

Tottenham had struck the woodwork before that goal through Harry Kane and did so again via Ben Davies before deservedly equalising in first-half stoppage time when Alli fired in.

Everton improved after the break and substitute Muhamed Besic and Ramiro Funes Mori went close for them, but neither side could find a winner.

The result sees Tottenham's run of three straight Barclays Premier League victories come to an end, and the gap between them in fourth and leaders Arsenal now stands at six points, while they are three points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United.

They were being talked up as possible title contenders in the build-up to the game, and while that remains very much up for debate, there was enough for boss Mauricio Pochettino to be encouraged by here.

Roberto Martinez's Everton, meanwhile, remain 11th and they have now won only once in seven league matches. Toffees fans have seen their side triumph just three times at home in the top flight this season and their frustrations continue.

Tottenham looked full of confidence from the off, applying plenty of early pressure, and they were inches away from going in front in the ninth minute when Kane's low, drilled effort from outside the box came back off the inside of the post.

Everton were struggling to get hold of the ball, let alone do anything with it, but then produced a moment of quality to suddenly snatch the lead.

Tom Cleverley collected the ball from Leighton Baines' backheel and lofted in into the area, where Romelu Lukaku nodded it down and Lennon took one touch before lashing it into the net, registering his first goal of the season on only his fourth league start.

Arouna Kone had a shot blocked as Everton looked to keep up the momentum, but Tottenham were soon threatening again and around the half-hour mark they rattled the goalframe again, Davies' strike cracking against the bar.

The leveller that was the least Spurs deserved duly arrived in the final moments of the half, and was another finely-crafted effort involving an excellent long-distance pass.

Toby Alderweireld was the man to deliver it this time, sweeping the ball forward from inside his own half, and Alli did superbly to control with his chest and hook past Tim Howard.

Alli showed more neat play with his chest soon after the break as he guided a Davies cross into the path of Kane, who was put off as he tried to shoot by John Stones.

Gerard Deulofeu, recently introduced by Martinez as a substitute, then produced a dangerous delivery that Lukaku just failed to convert with his head at the far post.

The impressive Alli unleashed a long-range effort that Howard dealt with comfortably, and Everton then went close twice in quick succession at the other end, with Hugo Lloris doing well to tip a piledriver from Besic over the bar and Funes Mori heading narrowly wide.

Lukaku burst through in the dying seconds but put his shot into the stand, before Ross Barkley's shot was saved by Lloris.

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