Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Everton: Croats Shine in Tense Contest

Chris PotterCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28:  Luka Modric of Tottenham in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Everton at White Hart Lane on February 28, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Luka Modric's sublime first-half strike proved enough to see Tottenham secure a second successive league victory this afternoon and reclaim fourth position from Manchester City on goal difference.

American Landon Donovan's shocking close-range miss late on would render Yakubu's scrappy second-half goal a consolation strike as Tottenham stumbled through the second  half of an entertaining contest to record a 2-1 victory—an important win in the context of Liverpool's victory over Blackburn later in the day.

It was, however a pyrrhic victory for the Londoners, as Tom Huddlestone went over on his ankle to add to a growing injury list, with David Bentley ruled out before the game with a niggle.

The club is now without FOUR crucial first-team players as the season draws to a close: Woodgate, King, Huddlestone, and Lennon.

In fact, it was Huddlestone's injury which precipitated a change in Tottenham's fortunes, and Redknapp will be keen to welcome Jamie O'Hara back to the club from Portsmouth pending the outcome of Pompey's court hearing tomorrow.

With Wilson Palacios one yellow card away from a suspension and Jermaine Jenas and Huddlestone injured, Spurs have no recognised central midfielders on their books and may be forced to play Modric and Kaboul in the centre in the coming weeks.

Everton were looking to bounce back from a dispiriting defeat in Portugal midweek, but looked sluggish from the off, and let the home team build a two-goal lead before they woke from their stupor.

Firstly, Tom Huddlestone floated a long ball to Jermain Defoe, who took the ball down expertly before miscuing a shot across the six-yard box.

Fortunately for Spurs, Roman Pavlyuchenko had continued his run towards goal and managed to slide the ball into an empty net to record his fifth goal in a fortnight and continue his post-transfer window renaissance.

As Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta started to find their rhythm in the middle of the park so Everton came into the game.

Until then, the visiting fans' only glimmer of hope came when Heurelho Gomes inexplicably dropped the ball at the feet of Yakubu, who was only denied an equaliser by Michael Dawson's leg.

However, great link play between Tottenham's three Croats gave the fans more cheer on 28 minutes as Vedran Corluka played the ball into Niko Krancjar who found Modric in a yard of space on the right edge of the box.

Surprised by the neglect of Everton's defenders, Modric took a touch, looked up and dinked a delightful curling shot over Tim Howard and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Tottenham could have been out of sight by half-time as Modric, Krancjar, and the excellent Gareth Bale wreaked havoc down the flanks.

David Moyes' stern half-time words seem to have struck a note with his charges, as Tottenham came under the cosh after the interval.

On 55 minutes, Gomes failed to deal with Jack Rodwell's header from another Arteta corner, and Yakubu pounced from three yards, with Pavlyuchenko and Dawson left stranded.

A minute later, Tottenham had Gomes to thank for maintaining their lead, as he made an agile near-post save from Rodwell's well-struck snapshot.

As the clock ticked down, Donovan let Tottenham off the hook, as he managed to divert a precise Rodwell centre into the side-net from just a yard out. David Moyes could not hide his disbelief, Tottenham fans voiced their concerns.

Jermain Defoe, ineffective throughout the contest, was replaced by loan striker Eidur Gudjohnsen, and Redknapp looked to Peter Crouch to provide an outlet.

Everton pressed for an equaliser, enjoying plenty of possession and corners, but did not threaten the goal again, despite referee Mike Bennett adding six minutes to the game on his watch.

Spurs up to fourth. Everton back down to earth after great recent performances against the top three.

Result:   Tottenham Hotspur 2(2) - 1(0) Everton

Scorers: Pavlyuchenko 11', Modric 28'; Yakubu 55'


Tottenham - Gomes 5; Corluka 6, Dawson 8, Bassong 6, Bale 9; Krancjar 7, Huddlestone 6 (Kaboul 4), Palacios 6, MODRIC 9; Pavlyuchenko 7 (Crouch 4), Defoe 5 (Gudjohnsen 4)

Everton - Howard 6; Neville 6, Heitinga 6, Distin 7, Baines 7; Arteta 7, Pienaar 7, Osman 5 (Jagielka 7), Rodwell 7 (Vaughan 4), Anichebe 5 (Donovan 4), Yakubu 6