Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur: FA Cup 5th Round Match Report

Everton booked their place in the FA Cup Quarter Finals after beating Tottenham Hotspur in one of the most topsy-turvy matches in the competition’s recent history.

Unable to call upon Allan, André Gomes and James Rodríguez, Carlo Ancelotti recalled Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alex Iwobi to his starting eleven for the match. Neither player, nor the other nine in blue, were able to cope with Spurs’ outstanding start to proceedings, with the verve and vigour of the visitors’ attack a refreshing contrast to their performances in recent defeats against Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea.

Their excellent opening was rewarded with a goal inside three minutes. Davison Sánchez, a much maligned figure at the heart of Spurs’ defence, glanced home from a Heung-Min Son corner to give Jose Mourinho’s men an ideal platform on which to build. Whilst Sigurdsson’s efforts at man-marking left much to be desired, Son’s delivery was exquisite and set the tone for most of the South Korean’s involvements throughout the match.

Everton responded quite well to falling behind, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin forcing Hugo Lloris to push the ball onto the post. However, Spurs continued to pose a threat on the break, with an excellent counter attacking concluding with a Son shot that Olsen had to tip over his crossbar. It felt that Everton’s best bet at establishing some kind of a foothold in the match was to press slightly higher up the pitch and look to stem the flow of Tottenham’s midfield. With nine minutes to go until the break, the hosts did just that and found themselves level.

Following a careless passage of play in the Tottenham corner, Iwobi and Sigurdsson pounced to set Calvert-Lewin away, whose powerful first time shot soared past Lloris into The Park End net. It was poor goalkeeping from the French international but a brilliantly instinctive finish from The Toffees’ top scorer, who continues to impress.

Buoyed by this equaliser, Everton were now to enjoy their most productive period of the match. After good link up play between Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, the latter went on a mazy run before unleashing a fine low strike from the edge of the area to give his side an unlikely lead. The Brazilian international has faced lots of criticism in recent months for his lack of goals and assists and whilst that is completely justified, goals like this illustrate how calls for him to be deposed from the Everton eleven altogether are invalid.

It was to get even better for The Blues two minutes from the interval. Following minimal contact between Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Calvert-Lewin in the box, referee David Coote pointed to the penalty spot. Whilst replays seemed to be inconclusive, Stockley Park’s decision to uphold Coote’s call suggests the Danish international must have committed some kind of foul. Composed as ever, former Spur Sigurdsson stepped up from the spot and tucked the ball away to complete an extraordinary turnaround for Everton which ten minutes before seemed impossible.

Ancelotti will have been devastated his side did not enter the second half with a two goal lead. Deep into first half stoppage time, a mistake from Yerry Mina presented a golden opportunity to Erik Lamela, who finished superbly past Olsen to give Tottenham a much clearer route back into the match. It was an inexcusable mistake from the Colombian international which all Evertonians feared could set a tone for the second half that was not too dissimilar to the opening twenty minutes of the first.

Half Time: Everton 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur

In less than ten minutes after the restart, Tottenham equalised. After another sensational Son corner, one of fifteen his side took over the course of the piece, Sánchez stabbed home to grab his second and Spurs’ third. In this instance, there was no defending Sigurdsson’s efforts, with the Icelandic international’s inability to stop Sánchez from getting to the ball an illustration of how the defensive and laborious sides of the game are not his speciality.

To accentuate the foreboding sense of doom around Goodison Park, Everton were forced to take Calvert-Lewin off the pitch with just under an hour played after what appeared to be a hamstring injury. With Tottenham level and their talisman Harry Kane now on the field, it felt like this moment could pave Everton’s path towards another capitulation in the world’s oldest cup competition.

But much like at Old Trafford last weekend, The Toffees did not give in and retook the lead with twenty two minutes left to play. Sigurdsson, comfortable with the responsibility as Everton’s main source of creativity, slid an excellent pass through to Richarlison, who finished superbly into the bottom right hand corner of Lloris’ net. Whilst Tottenham may have grounds to complain about a potential foul by Iwobi on Tanguy Ndombele just before the goal was scored, their inability to clear their lines, Everton’s quick thinking and Richarlison’s magnificent strike all deserved to be rewarded with a goal.

As time ticked towards the ninety minute mark, one couldn’t help but think a Tottenham equaliser was coming. Whilst Everton had been exceptional in certain areas, especially the midfield, where Abdoulaye Doucouré and Tom Davies produced two extraordinary displays, their defending had not been of the quality needed to suggest they were able to prevent Spurs finding the leveller. Unsurprisingly, it was to be through Kane that Tottenham got such a goal.

After frantic defending from yet another corner kick, Son floated a delicious cross to the back post which their captain was able to nod into the net unopposed. This felt like the pivotal moment in the match. After coming from behind twice, the momentum was very much with Tottenham and with the likes of Kane, Son, Lamela and Dele Alli all on the pitch, a winner for the away side seemed inevitable. But due to the endeavour of Everton’s midfield, the industry of substitutes Bernard and Seamus Coleman and the resilience of the likes of Michael Keane, Mina and Ben Godfrey, Everton were able to keep Spurs at bay and take the match into extra time.

Football shouldn’t be this stressful, should it?

Full Time: Everton 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur

Throughout extra time, in particular the first period, Everton were quite simply outstanding. In the face of a Tottenham side who brought on fresh legs in midfield and attack, The Toffees lifted their intensity and pressed the match back into their control.

They were rewarded halfway through the first half with what proved to be the winning goal. After regaining possession following the application of pressure on Spurs’ backline, Sigurdsson lofted an exceptional pass over the heads of Toby Alderweireld and Sanchez to feed Bernard, whose well-timed, well-struck half volley soared past Lloris into the Gwladys Street goal. Rumoured to be on his way out of Goodison Park this January, Bernard’s efforts when coming on as a substitute, including this goal, offers some faith that the Brazilian can still offer something positive to Ancelotti’s squad between now and the end of the season.

Having regained the lead, the next twenty three minutes or so of play were to be excruciatingly painful for all those of a blue persuasion. Images of late collapses against so many in this competition, including Millwall in 2019, Manchester United in 2016 and of course Liverpool in 2012, seemed to project themselves onto the Goodison grass as Tottenham swayed forward. But through a combination of aimless attacking, tremendous defensive discipline and relentless running from the likes of Doucoure, Richarlison and Coleman, Ancelotti’s men were able to resist the fates of so many previous Everton sides and record a famous win.

The biggest compliment one can pay to Everton tonight is that it was very unlike Everton. Faced with the pressures of a barren twenty six years, a stronger opposition and an inability to refresh the personnel on the pitch, so many teams who have represented this football club would have folded and fallen victim to yet another glorious failure. But through incredible endeavour and the guidance of a manager who knows how to win big games more than most, they survived and thrived.

One cannot exaggerate just how significant and meaningful a victory this is.

Full Time A.E.T: Everton 5-4 Tottenham Hotspur

James’ Everton Man of the Match: Abdoulaye Doucouré

Published by JamesAldred99

A 'cautiously' optimistic Evertonian, excited by Carlo Ancelotti's side start to the season and the way in which the wider Premier League campaign has begun.

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