Everton 0 Tottenham 0 - Match Report

Tony Marshall

Everton claimed a hard-earned point at home to Spurs in a match that never really sprung into life.

Billed pre-game as a test of their respective Champions League ambitions, Everton and Spurs also knew that a win would lift them up to second in the table, perhaps raising hopes of and outside shot at the title, in what is increasingly looking like the most open race in years.

Despite that tantalizing prize on offer, Everton never really got going in the first 45 minutes as Spurs wrestled the initiative from the off. They spent much of the opening half hour on the offensive and pressing Everton right to the edge of their own area.

Boss Andre Villas-Boas had instructed his players to press and harry Everton high up the pitch and that hampered the home side's passing game. Everton could barely string a pass to together while Spurs looked increasingly menacing.

That said, they could only really muster half chances despite their territorial domination. Roberto Soldado flashed a header wide while Sandro and Andros Townsend saw efforts from distance fly over.

Tim Howard punched away a Kyle Walker free kick before collecting a Lewis Holtby effort far more comfortably a few minutes later.

Everton's first effort at goal came more than half an hour in, Leon Osman - in for Ross Barkley in what was the only change from last week's win at Villa - fired in a shot from long range that comfortably cleared the bar.

The half's biggest talking point came a few minutes later when the impressive Jan Vertongen collided with Seamus Coleman in the penalty area. Referee Kevin Friend, who had a frustratingly inconsistent afternoon, said no penalty, much to home side's relief.

Roberto Martinez must have been relieved to have got his side in at the break still level and whatever he said at half time had a positive impact, with the Blues much more of an attacking threat after the interval.

That said, Spurs 'keeper Hugo Lloris still had little to do, with his defenders doing well to block efforts from Romelu Lukaku, Steven Pienaar and the strangely off-colour Kevin Mirallas.

Martinez was positive in his substitutions, bringing on Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu, with Barkley firing a long range effort just over soon after coming on. Deulofeu then danced past three Spurs players only to see his chipped finish well saved by the advancing Lloris.

Everton then felt aggrieved when Coleman went down in the box under  challenge from Vertongen. The Belgian clearly caught the full-back, but Coleman's honesty saw him immediately spring back up and get a shot away. It was definitely a penalty but I wonder whether the first half appeal was on the referee's mind when he waved away the appeals, as well as Coleman's reluctance to dive and make a meal of the challenge.

As the game entered its closing stages Lukaku was sent clear and collided with Lloris as the 'keeper rushed out to collect the ball. It was an accidental collision but the referee still decided to booked Lukaku, much to everyone's annoyance. A dazed Lloris then looked to be heading from the field due to concussion but changed his mind and ran back on the pitch, leaving Brad Friedel to sit back down on the bench.

The incident meant there was nine minutes of stoppage time but passed by with little incident, though Tottenham substitute Christian Eriksen saw his shot well saved by Phil Jagielka.

Given Tottenham's form this season and the players they have a draw - and a clean sheet - is not a bad result. It keeps the points tally ticking over and keeps up the unbeaten record at home. It is frustrating to miss the chance to rise above Liverpool into second, but in truth they did not do enough to deserve the three points this afternoon.

Howard 7 Coleman 7 Baines 6 Distin 6 Jagielka 7 Osman 6 (Barkley 7)  Mirallas 5 (Deulofeu 7) Barry 6 McCarthy 6 Lukaku 6 (Jelavic 5)

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