Tottenham Hotspur v Everton
Everton lost ground in the race for the European places as, despite a flurry of early chances, the Blues fell to a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
The majority of those early opportunities fell the way of Leon Osman, the pick of which was a perfectly-struck half-volley that needed a stunning save from home keeper Hugo Lloris.
The visitors did enjoy much of the possession in a bright opening period but fell away somewhat after the break and found themselves behind following Emmanuel Adebayor’s 64th-minute goal.
Despite the introduction of Ross Barkley, Aiden McGeady and the fit-again Gerard Deulofeu, Everton just couldn’t test Lloris again and left North London frustratingly empty handed.
Boss Roberto Martinez could welcome back Seamus Coleman and Steven Pienaar back to his starting line-up, while Lacina Traore made the bench.
His side enjoyed the game’s early chances – lots of them in fact. Inside the first seven minutes alone, the Blues – or rather Osman – had four good opportunities to open the scoring.
First, the ball was rapidly moved out to the right and when Coleman picked out Osman, he curled narrowly wide.
Then, after a Kevin Mirallas cross-shot was deflected inches over the bar, Osman was cleverly teed up by Steven Naismith from the resultant corner. His sweetly struck half-volley looked like it was going to creep into the net, only for Lloris to acrobatically tip it wide.
From the corner, Osman headed over before he shot straight at Lloris from the very next attack.
It set the tone for the half, the Blues controlling most of the possession, but failing to carve out any clear cut chances.
Tottenham had their moments – Christian Erisken fired a free-kick narrowly over, while a dangerous Danny Rose cross just needed a touch to turn it past Tim Howard – but the half was seen out with Mirallas choosing the wrong option after a mazy run.
Picking up possession in the middle of the park, the Belgian evaded a flying tackle from his countryman Jan Verthonghen, ran past two more defenders but, with Naismith screaming for a pass, the winger elected to shoot but fired over.
The Toffees were soon back into their stride after the break, Mirallas shooting high and wide, but still Spurs were offering plenty to concern the visitors. Adebayor nodded wide from a corner in one such instance.
On came Andros Townsend to inject some impetus into the home attack, with Everton boss Roberto Martinez adding his own young England star to the mix minutes later. Off came Pienaar to be replaced by Ross Barkley.
However it was the hosts who would finally take the lead. On 64 minutes, Adebayor rifled past Howard to put Spurs a goal to the good.
Martinez responded with a double change, introducing attackers McGeady and Deulofeu for Osman and Naismith.
Buoyed by his goal, Adebayor went in search of more. A rising drive was always going over, but when he escaped down the left with only Coleman for company, only a fantastic bit of defending from the Irishman prevented the Spurs striker a golden opportunity to test Howard.
But the hosts’ priorities were hanging on to what they had, and they did so to good effect, seeing the game out, despite a late shout for a penalty as Coleman took a tumble.
Everton then, will look to bounce back against another London club – Crystal Palace – when they return to action on Wednesday night at Goodison Park.