Tottenham must be better at protecting leads now they are sponsored by a company with the country’s most famous dog but at least they have a man to provide a gloss finish.
After Thursday’s kerfuffle with Dulux and some tongue-in-cheek tweets that left the club embarrassed, normal service was resumed last night on Merseyside as Tottenham gave away an advantage but saw Harry Kane do what he does best.
In a game that had significant connotations for both clubs in the race for Europe, Kane fired Everton in front, watched in frustration as they fell behind to two Gylfi Sigurdsson goals before rescuing his side with a terrific strike to ensure they got reward from an entertaining game.
Harry Kane struck twice on Friday night to rescue a point for Spurs against Everton, coming away with a 2-2 draw at Goodison
He was, admittedly, helped by some dreadful defending by Everton, whose ambitions of reaching the Champions League now appear to have evaporated, but it was still a ruthless display of finishing and reminder of why he is one of Europe’s best.
The opening 25 minutes offered no indication of what was to come. We can’t describe the action in that spell as ‘football’ because it simply looked like 20 athletes running around, trying to block spaces and concentrating on being orderly and functional.
It was particularly disappointing to see Everton being so laboured. They were dark horses for the Champions League six weeks ago but they have allowed their stride to shorten as the tempo of this race began to increase. They have been inhibited but this fixture was ripe for them to attack.
Admittedly, they were the first team to provide some kind of imagination when James Rodriguez nudged a perfectly weighted ball forward to Richarlison but, in keeping with the way the contest had been meandering, the Brazilian’s shot lacked conviction and it was easily saved by Hugo Lloris.
EVE V TOT: MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
EVERTON (3-4-2-1): Pickford 6.5; Godfrey 6, Keane 5, Holgate 5; Iwobi 4 (Coleman 61min, 7), Allan 6, Davies 6.5 (King 84), Digne 6; Rodriguez 7.5, Sigurdsson 8; Richarlison 6.
Subs not used: Nkounkou, Virginia, Olsen, Broadhead, John, Price, Welch.
Scorer: Sigurdsson 31 (pen), 62.
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti 6.
SPURS (3-4-1-2): Lloris 6; Dier 6, Alderweireld 6, Rodon 6; Aurier 6, Hojbjerg 7, Sissoko 7, Reguilon 5.5 (Moura 64, 6); Ndombele 6.5 (Lamela 64, 6); Kane 8.5 (Alli 90+3), Son 7.5.
Subs not used: Sanchez, Winks, Bale, Hart, Lo Celso, Tanganga.
Scorer: Kane 27, 68. Booked: Hojbjerg.
Manager: Jose Mourinho 6.
Referee: Michael Oliver 6.
Maybe that was the jolt Tottenham needed as, moments later, they opened the scoring. A cross from Tanguy Ndombele caused panic in Everton’s area, Michael Keane got his header wrong and only managed to flick the ball on to Kane, who did the rest.
Kane loves facing Everton, having previously scored 10 times in his last 11 appearances against them, and this one to nudge his tally forward was terrific, an instinctive shot speared past Jordan Pickford into the corner of the Gwladys Street net.
The advantage, however, was all too brief. When you remember how proficient past Mourinho sides were at shutting up games away from home after poking their noses in front, it jars to see how flimsy Tottenham are when they should really push on.
They were in front for three minutes before Everton were given a route back into the contest. It came when Sergio Reguilon careered into the back of Rodriguez, needlessly giving the hosts a penalty. Up stepped Gylfi Sigurdsson, against his former club, to convert from 12 yards.
Using Sigurdsson and Rodriguez from the start has not been wildly successful for Everton, who had only won two of the previous seven fixtures the pair had started together, but they began to click and almost fashioned a second goal in the 35th minute.
A flowing move ended with Colombian swapping passes with the Iceland international on the edge of the area but Lloris was equal to the challenge when spread himself to block Rodriguez’s shot – the grimace on the Everton number 19’s face, though, told you he should have scored.
This was more like it from Ancelotti’s side. He has done superb work over the last 16 months but he cannot be immune from criticism and it has been impossible not to feel like the handbrake has been since Everton got to within challenging distance of the top four.
Goodison should have been a rich supply of points but the fact they hadn’t scored more than one goal at home in the Premier League since December 19 – and only won once here, outside cup ties, in 2021 – illustrates where they have fallen short.
Ancelotti wanted to see that put right in the second half but Mourinho was similarly impatient for a response from his team and they were the ones who came out for the restart with purpose, prompting the Italian to get increasingly animated on the touchline.
First to threaten was Son Heung-min, who scurried down the left flank in the 51st minute away from Alex Iwobi and Ben Godfrey but he was denied by a smart stop from Jordan Pickford, who was one of a number of England players being watched by Gareth Southgate.
Tottenham came closer still in the 54th minute. Son was again involved but this time it was corner from the right that caused problems for Everton but Toby Alderweireled’s header cannoned against the outside of the post and bounced away.
How Everton made the most of that escape. Ancelotti had seen enough from Iwobi and dragged him off in the 60th minute; by the 62nd minute, Everton had the lead with Nigerian’s replacement – Seamus Coleman – teeing up Sigurdsson.
It was a beautiful move, Coleman tearing down the right and swapping passes with Richarlison before cutting a cross back for Sigurdsson, who adjusted his balance and dispatched a superb left half-volley past Lloris.
Yet in a reverse of what happened in the first half, Everton were no sooner ahead than they were pegged back. Keane and Mason Holgate got their wires crossed, failed to clear their lines and Kane inflicted maximum punishment.
He was never going to do anything else.