Tottenham 2-2 Everton: Spurs Smuggle Away 1 Point to Stay in CL Hunt

Trent Scott@ IIIApril 7, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07:  Gylfi Sigurdsson of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring their second goal with Clint Dempsey of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and  Everton at White Hart Lane on April 7, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur had no Gareth Bale, no Aaron Lennon, no Jermain Defoe and (mercifully) no William Gallas going into Sunday's match against Everton.

The end result of the match, a 2-2 draw, will feel like a major win after Spurs staggered listlessly for 60 minutes until falling behind 2-1.

In truth, the Toffees always looked the more likely to seal up three points by the end of the match, with the hosts doing their best Benny Hill impersonations at times against Victor Anichebe.

There was a hint of fortune for Spurs' opener after Jan Vertonghen's left-sided cross slipped past Sylvain Distin, on to the boot of Emmanuel Adebayor and off the thigh of Tim Howard.

Distin did not miss another ball after that, particularly during the second half, as seemingly every cross from Tottenham's right made contact with the Frenchman's head.

The lead never looked like staying for long, though, because Spurs never settled into any sort of rhythm until the half-hour mark, by which point Everton had already equalized through Phil Jagielka.

Tottenham could not quite figure out what it was they were aiming to do.

Attacking down the flanks resulted in little as crosses were quickly pinged away by the Toffee rearguard.

The hosts' passing was too slow through the middle, often meaning that any promising positions taken up were immediately lost because either the ball never made it to the players in question, or, by the time they had received the ball, Everton had already closed the hole.

It did not help matters that every attack seemed to end with no fewer than four players in the exact same area, looking for the same pass that no one could deliver as one or two defenders in blue could cut off the entire Tottenham front.

This pattern continued well into the second half while Everton, not exactly throwing bodies forward, seemed content to let Anichebe do the grafting up front alone.

Replacing Ross Barkley early in the second half proved pivotal to the next goal, and Everton's Kevin Mirallas was the man to get it.

With Nikica Jelavic on, both Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker were occupied when a downfield ball dropped between six different players.

Five of the six stood there and watched it bounced, while Mirallas made a play on it. Scott Parker was late to the danger and, with the center-backs frozen, the Belgian turned Caulker inside-out before sweeping past Hugo Lloris.

At this point, something must have collectively clicked within the brains of the 11 men in Lilywhite because the squad finally began to advance on the Everton stronghold.

The hosts began to drive hard from midfield as Parker and Mousa Dembele poured forward to spark the attack, with Dembele nearly leveling the match on a deflected drive that looped off Howard and onto the crossbar.

Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lewis Holtby began to link into the attack more frequently, dropping deep to get on the ball and began to put together some of the one-touch play needed to try and break down the Toffee's now packed defense.

Vertonghen and Kyle Walker practically lived in the Everton half during the final 20 minutes as Spurs desperately looked for an equalizer.

Despite their huffing and puffing, though, the fans at White Hart Lane looked on despondently as Champions League football looked closer and closer to becoming a pipe dream.

Then, out of the blue, Everton gave Walker a chance to bomb forward one-on-one with Leighton Baines.

Walker skipped past the England international and fired in a low cross towards Clint Dempsey.

Dempsey made his finest contribution of the match by dummying the ball to Adebayor, who's shot rattled the right upright but fell fortuitously into the path of Sigurdsson, who managed to beat a sliding Darron Gibson to level the score.

While Anichebe and Jelavic were too busy wasting opportunities at the other end, Spurs managed to not throw away the point due to a Lloris sliding save on the Nigerian, and Spurs waltzed out with their heads marginally above water.

By the time the day finished, Chelsea were back in third with a win over Sunderland and it is reasonable to believe that, after the week off as the Blues entertain the FA Cup, Spurs will sit fifth after Arsenal continue their rampage against Norwich.

(That assumes that Norwich does not do something remarkable and force a draw or win, but try not to snicker out loud when you utter that.)

After a midweek tussle with Basel in the Europa League, Tottenham have a week and a half to lick their wounds and hope a player or two return to the side in time for a massive showdown with Manchester City.

That match could very well change the entire dynamic of the race for the Champions League places, pending Monday's Manchester Derby outcome.

Tottenham's fate is still very much in their own hands. More performances like Sunday's will have them reeling further backwards if they cannot find ways to cope without multiple players.


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