Everton’s good spell of results was interrupted by the international break and the hope was they could continue to build on these positive results. Tottenham had seen enough complaining from Anotonio Conte and let him go during the break. Cristian Stellini has once again been given the job of replacing Conte, however, this time Conte will not be returning.
After results on the weekend, Everton can jump from 18th to 13th with victory and the Evertonians at Goodison were being counted on to push the team to another positive result. Stopping Harry Kane was needed with the England striker scoring 15 goals in his 16 games against Everton.
Sean Dyche in his prematch comments:
Dyche kept his faith with the team who drew 2-2 with Chelsea. Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin was still not fit enough, while full-back Nathan Patterson was also not on the bench despite playing for Scotland during the international break.
Tottenham interim boss Cristian Stellini made three changes to the side that drew 3-3 at Southampton in Antonio Conte’s last game in charge. Hugo Lloris returned to the starting line-up after missing the last nine games due to a knee injury. Ivan Perisic and Dejan Kulusevski came in with Ben Davies and Richarlison dropping out.
Jordan Pickford led the team out with his new pal Harry who was the mascot for the game. Harry’s incredible story has been shared all over social media and it was great to see him leading out the team. David Coote was the man in the middle as Oliver Skipp kicked off to get the game underway.
The team was on the front foot in the opening moments. A great interception from Michael Keane put Alex Iwobi through and his layoff to Demarai Gray allowed the striker to attempt a curled shot which went just wide of the far post. It was then Spurs who broke forward with a ball over the top but a good stop from Pickford was required when Pedro Porro shot low.
After Iwobi was dragged down, the referee allowed play to go on and Harry Kane had a chance but Keane was there to block the shot on the goal line and allow Pickford to scoop up the ball. It was then Keane at the other end as a free kick sat up nicely but his shot went over the bar.
The game settled in and it was a great ball to Perisic was then delivered onto the head of Harry Kane who missed the target with Pickford watching. It was another ball from Perisic that was cut out by Dwight McNeil with Porro waiting to pounce. It was then Everton’s turn to deliver a ball into the box and the scrambling Hugo Lloris cleared the ball. The pressure continued and a lovely touch from Onana was met by Godfrey who’s shot was deflected wide of the post.
The teams took a break as the sun set in order to allow those players who are observing Ramadan to take on some fluid. Tottenham had 60% of the ball in the game up to that point. The game resumed and it was Doucoure who had a clear header but it went well over the bar.
Spurs continued to control the ball but they were not getting much penetration behind the Everton back line. A nice ball from Doucoure put Gray through but he couldn’t make anything of it. Onana then forced a save from Lloris from a long range shot. Moments later, Tarkowski and Perisic were both on the ground and it was the Everton player who required treatment. He had played every minute of the season up to that point and the warm applause rang round the ground as he got up and prepared to return to the game.
The first real chance for Son Heung Min blocked by Pickford and was then flagged for offside. Three minutes of added time arrived with Spurs on the ball. Everton were absorbing the pressure and the first half ended with chances at both ends with nothing between the teams.
No changes for either team as Demarai Gray kicked off the second half. A great tackle from Onana gave the ball to Gueye on the edge of the box with support on either side. He chose to go alone and put the ball into the second level of the Gwladys Street End. A real chance, a bad choice and an awful finish.
Amadou Onana took another shot from outside the box with Lloris having little trouble. The pressure continued and the blue shirts were pressuring the ball when they were not in possession. Dyche was barking orders and support from the sideline. Crosses were being delivered but there was no one to finish it off.
Doucoure was putting in a shift and forced a corner and Dwight McNeil delivered but it was Spurs who broke away only to have Seamus Coleman break it up. Harry Kane was challenged by Doucoure and it was the midfielder who hit out and the referee took only a few seconds to brandish the red card even as the England captain went down theatrically. Thirty minutes remained and Everton were up against it. Cool heads were needed.
It was Clément Lenglet who went into the referee’s book for a challenge on Iwobi who continued and had his shot blocked. Things went from bad to worse when Michael Keane took down Romero in the box and a penalty was given. Harry Kane stepped up to the spot and drilled the penalty into the opposite corner.
Dyche and his staff huddled together and tried to come up with a plan to get back into the game. The team continued to press high up the pitch and Romero was caught on the ball in his own box which led to a chance that Gray could not get past Lloris. Moments later the pressure was on again and it was a fine save from Lloris denied Gueye. The resulting corner was delivered by McNeil and Keane met the ball but could not get enough power to get it by the keeper.
Changes were then made as Ellis Simms replaced Demarai Gray and Vitaliy Mykolenko replaced Seamus Coleman. Tottenham brought on Sanchez in place of Lenglet. The final fifteen minutes arrived and Romero was booked for a late tackle on Onana. Simms was on the ball and a nice one two with Iwobi gave McNeil a chance and the calls for hand ball from the Goodison crowd were ignored.
Son was withdrawn and replaced by Lucas Moura. Spurs were hanging on as Tom Davies and James Garner were brought on to give some fresh legs in place of Onana and Gueye. Everton were given a free kick when Garner was taken down on the edge of the box by Sanchez. It was Garner who delivered the ball but the ball went through with no one getting on the end of it.
Moments later Lucas Moura was given a straight red for a dangerous tackle on Michael Keane. It was only seconds later when the tide turned. The moment of the game came when Michael Kean absolutely blasted a shot which was bulging the back of the net before Lloris even moved. Six minutes of extra time was announced as the Goodison crowd erupted.
Everton had the next chance when Lloris tried to clear the ball and it hit Tom Davies only to have the ball go wide. Spurs did get the ball down the pitch but Tarkowski got his foot in to block a Kulusevski shot. The referee had seen enough and his whistle blew to end the match.
Everton finish the week in 15th place with 27 points. They are still only one point from the drop zone but this was another good game against a top four team.
Man of the Match: Michael Keane
He was the villain, the victim and the messiah......and all in 30 minutes!
What a fight. The Goodison faithful saw a team that gave everything from the start and when Doucoure was sent off the passion only grew. In the last couple of years that goal from Harry Kane would have seen Everton capitulate and throw in the towel. That could also be said for Michael Keane who was responsible for the Tottenham penalty only to have him turn into the hero with a completely unexpected goal from outside the box. This passion and dedication is starting to be the modus operandi for the team and it is getting results.
Sean Dyche has now played the same starting 11 for the past three matches. His insistence on stability is one of his trademarks as a coach. His expectations are clear and when a player follows the plan they are usually retained for the next game. This is true whether the match is home or away. Once again, Demarai Gray was given the task to lead the line and his movement saw him all over the pitch trying to find space. The difficulty with this is that Dyche relies heavily on balls being crossed into the box and that has less impact when there is not a target man. When Ellis Simms joined the game he was able to get his head on the ball a couple of times and there were teammates around him to feed off.
Up to the moment that Abdoule Doucoure was sent off he had put in another great performance. The likely three match ban will see him miss Manchester United, Fulham and Crystal Palace. His work since getting a new life under Sean Dyche has been excellent and it will be interesting to see how Dyche responds. His initial move was to bring in James Garner and the young midfielder had an impact for the time he was on the field. Garner brings creativity and is a fine passer of the ball. Perhaps this is the chance for which he has been waiting.