Everton could not bring a halt to their winless run after an entertaining 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park.
Boosted by the returns of Jordan Pickford and Allan, Carlo Ancelotti went with a rather offensive line-up for the match, with Alex Iwobi, Gylfi Sigurdsson and James Rodríguez all playing in behind Richarlison, who continued his spell as The Toffees’ lone striker.
After a tepid opening fifteen minutes, The Blues burst into life, with Richarlison firing straight at Hugo Lloris following an exquisite Rodríguez through ball. Dominating the ball and retaining a good defensive shape, the hosts were certainly on top and merited a goal for their endeavours.
Tragically (and somewhat inevitably), this did not come, with the visitors snatching the lead just before the half an hour mark. Following a dreadful mix-up between Mason Holgate and Michael Keane, the ball ricocheted its way into the path of Harry Kane, who smashed the ball past his fellow England international Pickford to give the North Londoners the lead.
It was a cruel blow for Ancelotti’s men and could have initiated another very difficult evening for them at Goodison Park. However, Everton responded superbly and within four minutes were back level once again. After a lovely move down the left, Sigurdsson dragged the ball back into the box to meet Rodríguez, who tumbled to the ground under pressure from Sergio Reguilón. Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot and Sigurdsson did what he does best, slotting the penalty into the bottom right hand corner of Lloris’ net to restore parity.
The Blues continued to mount pressure following the Icelandic international’s equaliser, with Rodríguez blasting straight at Lloris from close range, and will have felt the game was there to be won heading into the second half.
Half Time: Everton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs enjoyed arguably their best spell of the match in the first fifteen minutes after the break, with both Heung Ming Son and Toby Alderweireld going close to breaching Pickford’s goal a second time. Blessed with a bench containing the likes of Lucas Moura and Érik Lamela, one could not help but feel if José Mourinho was to chance his arm and throw his attacking alternatives onto the pitch, his side could start to dominate proceedings.
His failure to do so was punished just after the hour mark. After a superb, smart move involving Richarlison, super sub Seamus Coleman and Gylfi Sigurdsson, the ball was in the back of Lloris’ net again, with Sigurdsson guiding a cracking cross past the Frenchman’s fingertips. It was one of the best goals Everton have scored in some time, both in terms of construction and quality of finish, and illustrated how there is quality in this team which with further investment can move the club to a competitive level.
Unfortunately, Everton’s great attacking play was to be outdone by yet another defensive mishap. Unable to clear his lines correctly, Michael Keane’s sliced hoof away bounced off the back of Mason Holgate’s and straight into Kane’s way and the England captain did the rest. It was an uncharacteristic set of mistakes by Keane, who for the most part of the season has been extremely sound at the heart of Everton’s defence, but further examples of how the absences of Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina at centre back can often cause real chaos and confusion.
To their credit, Everton were outstanding in the last twenty minutes, with golden chances dropping for the likes of substitute Josh King, Richarlison and Godfrey. It was a shame they couldn’t find the winner their efforts probably deserved but one can be confident heading into the rest of this season and the start of the next that if The Toffees continue to perform at that intensity, eradicate those errors from the back and build a squad that compliments the magic of the likes of Rodríguez and Allan, Everton can take maximum points from such a fixture and bridge the gap between themselves and those above them.
Full Time: Everton 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
James’ Everton Man of the Match: James Rodríguez