Everton rescued a point late on against Tottenham Hotspur through a Michael Keane stunner in a Premier League game at Goodison Park on Monday (April 3). The game ended 1-1.
The hosts came into the game in the bottom three, with the knowledge that avoiding defeat would take them out of the drop zone. Tottenham, meanwhile, were in fifth, just one point below fourth-placed Manchester United and third-placed Newcastle United.
The first half saw both sides largely devoid of both confidence and quality. Everton pressed Tottenham hard when the away side had possession and forced a number of turnovers. However, with Demarai Gray largely isolated up front, they failed to adequately test Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal.
Tottenham also struggled to put together any major attacks, with Pedro Porro’s cross-come-shot being easily stopped by Jordan Pickford. Meanwhile, a snapshot from Harry Kane was blocked in front of the line by Michael Keane.
The game came to life in the second half. With 58 minutes on the clock, Abdoulaye Doucoure ended up in a tussle with Kane off the ball and took an ill-advised swing at him, forcing referee David Coote to instantly produce a red card.
Ten minutes later, Spurs were ahead from the spot. Harry Kane casually sent Pickford the wrong way, capitalising on a largely needless foul by Michael Keane on Cristian Romero.
Rather than galvanising the away side, though, the goal seemed to send Tottenham retreating into their shell. Suddenly, they allowed Everton all the possession, and after substitute Lucas Moura was also shown a red card for a poor foul on Keane, the seemingly inevitable equaliser came.
Ben Godfrey found Keane outside the box, and after edging forward, he fired an unstoppable shot past Lloris and into the top left hand corner.
A point was essentially the least that Everton deserved from this game, and the result saw them climb up to 15th place in the league. Of course, Sean Dyche’s side are not safe from relegation yet, as they sit on equal points with three other sides and are only one point above Leeds in 18th.
Tottenham, meanwhile, will be left to rue another two points largely thrown away late in the game. Despite the removal of manager Antonio Conte during the international break, too little changed in their approach to the game. The draw moves them into fourth, but how long they can remain this high is a major question mark.
Here are five talking points from the game.
#5 Poor first half showed why Everton and Tottenham aren’t where they’d like to be
The first half of the game at Goodison Park was as poor a half of Premier League football as fans have been treated to in recent weeks. Neither side really looked like scoring, and their issues were laid bare.
Everton were clearly well-drilled by Sean Dyche and pressed and harried their opponents well, forcing a number of turnovers, but in the attacking third, they were largely appalling.
Demarai Gray found himself alone in attacking areas too many times, and his teammates also sent aimless crosses into the box, with nobody even attempting to get onto the end of them.
Tottenham, meanwhile, had patches of possession but didn’t really open Everton’s defence up enough. It felt like wing-backs Pedro Porro and Ivan Perisic ran into the same areas occupied by forwards Son Heung Min and Dejan Kulusevski too often, while Harry Kane was starved of service.
Essentially, this poor first half showed why neither side are quite where they’d like to be right now, as both teams lacked any kind of quality, particularly going forward.
#4 Everton shot themselves in foot and almost gave poor Tottenham side a largely undeserved win
The second half saw Everton push forward a little more to begin, with Abdoulaye Doucoure, in particular, finding himself in good attacking positions. However, it didn’t take long for The Toffees to shoot themselves in the foot.
Doucoure simply didn’t need to raise his hands to Harry Kane, and while the England captain made a meal of the incident, the Mali midfielder had to go. Making the most of their numerical advantage, Spurs began to push forward and hunt for a goal.
Sure enough, it was defender Cristian Romero who drew a cheap foul in the Everton box, allowing Kane to dispatch a perfectly placed spot-kick.
At that stage, the game probably should’ve been in the bag for Tottenham.
#3 Tottenham’s switch-off after their goal allowed Everton back into game
Tottenham have had issues in recent games with allowing overmatched opponents back into the game, and the same pattern continued.
As soon as they’d taken the lead through Harry Kane, Cristian Stellini’s side inexplicably decided to retreat into their shell, sitting back and letting Everton take possession. The tactic appeared to be an attempt to draw Everton in to catch them on the counter, but in reality, it was a needless risk to take against ten men.
All that did was invite pressure and allow Sean Dyche’s side to gain confidence and belief. That only increased when Stellini introduced Davinson Sanchez for Clement Lenglet at centre-back, and the Colombian’s first action in the game was to give away a sloppy foul.
Put simply, the decision to sit back was a baffling one from Tottenham, and one they ended up regretting hugely.
#2 Keane scores stunner, but toothless Everton need to score more goals to survive
Even though Tottenham gave Everton a way back into this game, for a long time, it didn’t look like Sean Dyche’s side would take it. They continued to lack quality in the final third, failed to really test Hugo Lloris in goal, and as the clock ticked away, the game appeared to be petering out.
With only injury time remaining, Michael Keane stepped up to atone for his earlier error in giving away the penalty. He strode forward unchallenged, and lashed an unstoppable right-footed shot into the net past a static Lloris.
The goal was fabulous and will probably be seen as one of the Premier League season’s most memorable. The point it rescued may well keep Everton up, in fact. However, it’s safe to say that the toothless Toffees will need to find a way to score more goals if they;re to survive. They had 15 shots against Spurs, with six on target, but aside from Keane’s stunner, didn’t test Lloris nearly enough.
Whether Dyche’s side can get the goals they need through rookie Ellis Simms or whether the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin returns to make an impact remains to be seen.
Either way, though, 23 goals on the board just isn’t enough for any Premier League side at this stage of the season.
#1 Tottenham may have proven Antonio Conte right with this performance
Following Tottenham’s 3-3 draw with Southampton before the international break, then-manager Antonio Conte went ballistic at his post-game press conference. The Italian slammed his players, essentially questioning their will to win, ability to manage a game and ability to play under pressure.
The rant was enough to see Conte lose his job, but on the evidence of their performance on Monday, he may well have had a point.
At 1-0 up and with a man advantage, Spurs had Everton under the cosh. They should have gone onto score at least one more, if not two. Instead, they retreated back and allowed Everton a way back into the game, which they eventually took through Keane’s goal.
Inexplicably, Spurs still sit in the top four. Although they have played more games than rivals Manchester United and Newcastle, points on the board are always better than the potential of points.
However, if they want to secure UEFA Champions League football for next season, they have to find a way to kill games like this one off when they have the opportunity. With attackers like Harry Kane, Son Heung Min and Dejan Kulusevski on the pitch, the fact that they couldn’t find a way to do that against Everton was baffling.
It’s a problem that Spurs’ new manager, whoever that may turn out to be, will need to solve as quickly as he can.