Saturday 24 March 2018

Coleman toast of Toffees after Spurs spurn chance to gain ground on rivals

Everton 2
Tottenham 1

Rory Smith

If Harry Redknapp had any doubt as to whether David Beckham was worth signing, he will have found all the proof he needed in 90 breathless, frenetic minutes at Goodison Park.

Everton edged Tottenham in a traditional Premier League slugfest. What a difference a cool head on calm shoulders, a wizened winner of football matches, might have made.

True, Beckham might have struggled with the pace. His body may not be up to the breakneck speed of the league he left behind.

But his calm, his composure would have been valuable as Redknapp's side tried to control their energetic hosts, and his leadership might even have stymied David Moyes' team's rousing crescendo, capped by Seamus Coleman's winning goal.

Moyes has searched high and low for a solution to the chronic shortage of goals which has sabotaged his side's season. He has employed Tim Cahill -- absent for a month thanks to the Asia Cup -- in an advanced role; he has even considered employing the likes of Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini in unfamiliarly attacking positions.


The answer, perhaps, was clear all along. Everton's strikers do not have the quality. What Moyes needed in such circumstances was quantity: out went the 4-5-1 which has stood him in such good stead, and in came a straight 4-4-2, he overripe Louis Saha partnering the still-green Jermaine Beckford.

It paid dividends immediately. Saha, without a goal in the league this season, picked up the ball 25 yards out, slightly to the left of the area. The Frenchman span round, looked up and fizzed a right-footed shot low past Heurelho Gomes. He almost looked like he had been scoring goals all of his life.

With Tottenham's ability to come back from behind this season, Everton could not have been surprised when Rafael van der Vaart equalised, heading home after Peter Crouch nodded an Alan Hutton cross along the edge of the six-yard box.

True to their new attacking identity, Everton went for their guests -- Beckford firing over when well placed, Coleman denied before and after the break -- and Spurs responded in kind.

Bale was withdrawn and Everton grew in confidence, Saha seeing one effort deflected wide and sending another straight down Gomes' throat. Van der Vaart was denied by Tim Howard from point-blank range. Then Beckford fed Saha, who saw his shot saved by Gomes. Coleman, leaping, steered the rebound home.

Beckham may not have made any difference. It is hard to blame for Redknapp, though, for wanting to find out. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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