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‘It has to be a foul’ - Benitez frustrated with officials after Everton denied penalty in Spurs draw

The Spaniard felt his side should have had a spotkick for a foul on Richarlison

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Rafa Benitez was unhappy with the officials after they denied Everton a penalty in Sunday’s battling goalless draw with Tottenham at Goodison Park.

In a game full of intensity but few clearcut changes, a pivotal moment of the game came midway through the second half when Richarlison appeared to be fouled by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the area.

Referee Chris Kavanagh gave the spot kick but overturned the decision after being advised by VAR to watch the incident on the pitchside monitor.

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Replays suggested Lloris may have got a slight touch on the ball, though it was hardly clear cut.

When asked about the incident after the game, Benitez told reporters:

“For me, it would be a foul on the middle of the pitch, it doesn’t matter if he touches the ball a little bit or not.

“Richarlison touched the ball after the keeper touched him. In the middle of the pitch it would be a foul and in the box, it has to be a foul.”

Though it is yet another game without a win Everton were at least much improved from recent capitulations against Watford and Wolves, with a much better intensity and tempo about their play.

Asked what pleased him most about the performance, Benitez added:

“I would say work-rate, the team is used to doing this well. I said so many times, the commitment is there.

“We can make mistakes, we can concede goals and miss chances but in terms of commitment, especially at home, the team has that.

“We have lost two games at home because we made mistakes but not from lack of commitment.

“Today, from the first tackle, from the first minute to the last one, everyone was giving everything, the fans were behind us – the connection between players and fans was great. That is the reason we could keep the tempo high.”

Fabian Delph picked up the man of the match award on what was his first start for the club in nearly a year.

The former England international has not been the most popular of players but he rolled back the years here, giving Everton much more of a grip in midfield in the absence of the injured Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League - Goodison Park Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

Benitez was full of praise for the 32-year-old, saying:

“He is important for us. He has been working with the new rehabilitation coach. I think he is coming stronger.

“He has had 10 weeks out of the pitch, so I think It is important for us to keep him fit and he can give us different options in the middle of the pitch, because we are a little bit short of that.”

Finally, Benitez gave an upbeat assessment of Yerry Mina’s fitness. The Colombian has missed Everton’s last four games with a hamstring injury but is edging closer to a return.

The defender has been left out of the Colombia squad for the upcoming international break so has two weeks to work on his fitness before the trip to Manchester City.

“Yerry is close [to being fit]. He didn’t have the time to be ready for this game. He is very close.

“In a few days he can join the team, start training and then we will see how he progresses. I am optimistic for Yerry.”