Stubborn Toffees hold out from Spurs resurgence in second half
Everton opened the scoring with a stunning free-kick from Leighton Baines from just outside the box on the 16th minute mark. Minutes later Spurs hit back through a Rafael Van der Vaart tap-in as both sides went into the break level. And that is the way it stayed, with Spurs failing to break down a well marshalled Everton back-line despite their second-half domination.
After missing the San Siro clash with Inter, Van der Vaart made his return to the Spurs starting line-up. There were two other changes - Younes Kaboul coming into central defence and Wilson Palacios' selection in midfield.
Everton welcomed back Steven Pienaar to their line-up with Louis Saha also recovering from injury and earning a spot on the bench.
Spurs have been guilty of making sloppy starts to games this season and certainly the Toffees seemed to settle fastest this match.
Tim Cahill had the first shot on target after high-tempo build-up play allowed the Australian space in front of the box, but his atttempt did only enough to sting the hands of Heurelho Gomes who made a comfortable save.
Spurs seemed to wake up at this point and created the best chance of the game so far when Van der Vaart cleverly back-heeled to Luka Modric in the box whose close range shot had to be beaten away by Tim Howard.
It was back and forth and the open nature of the game hinted at the deadlock being broken early and that duly arrived on the sixteenth minute.
Yakubu was brought down by Kaboul to the right of the box and Baines stepped up to curl an unstoppable free-kick into the top-left of goal.
It was a stunning goal and Spurs were shocked but they immediately began pressing for the equaliser as Everton drew back into their own half to hold onto their lead.
The Toffees were ultimately unsuccessful in their aims as a few minutes later the home side were on level terms again.
And the blame for the equaliser must lay at the feet of Howard, whose flap at a simple cross into the box from Alan Hutton allowed Peter Crouch to head across the goalmouth. Van der Vaart was in the right place to simply tap the ball past the line and continue his terrific form for the London side.
There was no let-up of attacking intent from either side after the goal. Hutton was making good use of the space down the right channel to pick out crosses into the box and his deep ball into the box had the home fans shouting for a penalty as Crouch tangled with Phil Jagielka and went down. Referee Mike Jones was having none of it though and waved away the protests.
Just before half time Crouch was involved in the action again. This time the striker wasted a good chance to put his side ahead after heading straight at Howard from close range after another decent Hutton cross.
Tap in | Van der Vaart show he doesn't just score the spectacular
The second half and Spurs continued where they left off. Good trickery from man of the moment Gareth Bale saw the winger past Phil Neville down the wing and his low centre to Crouch was collected neatly. The striker showed good footwork himself to shimmy into the box but his shot was dragged wide of the far post.
Next, Benoit Assou-Ekotto's long ball from one end of the pitch to the other was judged wrongly by Sylvain Distin, presenting Crouch with another chance to put his side ahead.
The England striker touched the ball down tidily and tried to dart towards goal but Distin made a good recovery and stabbed the ball away from his feet from behind to allow Howard to collect the ball safely.
The Toffees were looking subdued since after the break so David Moyes tried to effect change by bringing on Saha, who has not scored in the league since February.
But both sides were looking tired as the game approached the mid-point of the half. Everton were certainly looking as though they were paying the price physically for an high-tempo opening 45.
Their only sniff at goal for almost half an hour was a wild Pienaar strike from 30 yards.
Spurs were continuing to dig away though and Crouch continued to flounder in front of goal. Another good run from Bale, this time down the right, saw the winger pick out Van der Vaart whose flick released Crouch into space in front of goal.
But again, the striker's finish was not there as he shot weakly into the arms of Howard.
It was clear now that Everton were content with a point as ventures into the Spurs half were becoming a rare sight. Right at the death Van der Vaart had a chance to wreck their eveing after turning in the box to shoot but Distin was tight on the Dutchman and got a decent block in.
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