Unbeaten run ends amid defensive slips at Spurs

Sunday 5 March 2017  0 Comments  [Jump to last]
Tottenham Hotspur 3 - 2 Everton

Gareth Barry returned to the starting XI in a packed midfield before being withdrawn with less than an hour gone
Getty Images

Everton lost in the League for the first time since Christmas as Tottenham ruthlessly exploited their sloppiness at the back.

Harry Kane scored twice to overtake Romelu Lukaku as the Premier League's leading goalscorer before the Belgian gave the Blues hope late on but Dele Alli flicked home in stoppage time from a free kick to make it 3-1 and Enner Valencia scored a second consolation at the other end.

Facing a team enjoying a sequence of eight successive home wins, Everton needed to be strong defensively which was tacitly acknowledged by Ronald Koeman's team selection. Ademola Lookman dropped to the bench and Gareth Barry came into a five-man midfield aimed at stifling Spurs's attacking impetus.

The visitors were holding their own against visibly strong opponents until the 20th minute when Kane was allowed to advance into space almost 30 yards from goal and unleash a shot that caught Joel Robles off guard and found the bottom corner.

Robles redeemed himself somewhat a minute later to deny Kane a second with a close-range save as the striker cut inside Ashley Williams before Christian Eriksen rolled a shot just wide and Victor Wanyama saw a shot come back off the post with Everton's defence teetering.

Koeman resisted any temptation to make what appeared to be needed changes at the half-time interval and after Jan Vertonghen had been allowed to rampage through the midfield from defence and force a parrying save by Robles, the Blues put a second goal on a plate for Kane.

Morgan Schneiderlin was pounced upon by two white jerseys as Robles inadvisedly rolled the ball to him in a central position and his attempt to pass to Williams was knocked forward to Kane who fired a low shot past the Spanish ‘keeper to double the home side's lead.

Koeman withdrew Tom Davies and Barry in favour of Kevin Mirallas and James McCarthy and, led by the determined Ross Barkley, Everton tried to find a way back into the game. They found one 10 minutes from time when Mirallas found Lukaku with an accurate ball, Vertonghen lost his balance in front of his compatriot and the Belgian striker accepted the invitation to drive inside the box and drill a right-foot shot into the far corner.

The goal sparked more life from Everton but their hopes of salvaging something from the game were effectively killed when the defence went to sleep again from a stoppage time free kick. Spurs sub Harry Winks spotted the run of Alli behind a static Schneiderlin and the England midfielder helped it past Robles to make it 3-1.

The Blues responded almost immediately when substitute Enner Valencia swept home Barkley's free kick but it was too little too late.

The defeat, Everton's first in the League for nine matches, keeps them in seventh place, four points behind Manchester United and having played a game more.

Full details: ToffeeWeb match page