Everton 2 – 2 Tottenham
By Ian Hughes
Everton fought back from two goals down to earn a point with Tottenham, who missed an injury-time penalty.
Jermain Defoe slotted in the opener at the near post, and Michael Dawson made it 2-0 with a diving header.
Louis Saha volleyed in from eight yards to start Everton’s comeback and Tim Cahill equalised when he stooped to head in Leighton Baines’s cross.
Defoe had a chance to win it after Wilson Palacios was fouled but Tim Howard saved the striker’s spot-kick.
It was a dramatic finale to a fine second half that swung one way and then another, but Spurs will be kicking themselves for throwing away a two-goal lead.
The Londoners had looked to be cruising to victory – and third place in the table – after producing the more creative football for much of the afternoon.
Everton fightback delights Moyes
But Everton’s never-say-die attitude paid off, and Howard’s heroics meant the Toffees avoided a fourth consecutive league defeat.
At times it was not a pretty match to watch, with Tottenham’s Benoit Assou-Ekotto taking a combative approach to the game which failed to hide his poor form, and he was subsequently taken off at half-time.
While he was on the field, the left-back managed to get involved in a flare-up with Marouane Fellaini and Cahill as the game threatened to boil over.
Fellaini and Peter Crouch also appeared to exchange elbows as the amount of aggression on display easily surpassed the flair.
Defoe was lively, though, and was unlucky with a shot on the turn that went just wide, while Howard did just enough to stop the England striker when he was almost clean through and denied him with a save on another occasion.
And in Aaron Lennon, Spurs had the only other player on the pitch who looked really capable of producing something incisive.
Lennon’s crossing was particularly accurate, but his team-mates failed to get on the end of them.
At the other end, Jo made room for a shot after a smart turn but he dragged his effort wide.
Shortly after the break, Everton paid the price for again failing to deal with a Lennon cross, as Defoe darted to the near post and slotted the ball past Howard.
Defoe then turned provider as he set up Crouch, who was inches away from converting as Howard superbly tipped the striker’s low shot around the post.
But the visitors soon got their second goal when Dawson dived to head in Niko Kranjcar’s cross.
Now it seemed Tottenham could ease to to victory – and substitute Gareth Bale was close to making it 3-0 with a curling free-kick.
But Everton fought back and right-back Seamus Coleman, who had replaced the injured Joseph Yobo early on, crossed for Saha to score with a crisp volley.
Redknapp frustrated after letting lead slip
The home side began to play with a new sense of urgency and pressed forward with purpose, for the first time in the match.
They were almost rewarded when Saha sent a stunning over-head kick narrowly wide of the upright.
Tottenham were not to escape, though, and when Baines’s cross came in, Cahill was on hand to nod home.
Yet there was to be a final twist in the tale as Tony Hibbert clattered into Palacios and conceded a penalty in the second minute of injury time.
In-form striker Defoe stepped to take the kick but Howard pulled off an excellent stop to earn Everton a point.
Everton manager David Moyes:
“I thought we deserved a bit of luck and the goalkeeper helped it.
“The players had worked incredibly hard and had got stuck in. We tried to get something and because of that we earned some good fortune when it came around.
“I thought when it went to two each if anyone was going to make it 3-2 it was going to be us rather than Tottenham.”
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp:
“We had control, we were 2-0 up and we couldn’t see any danger. But suddenly they got a goal back, and Everton came on strong.
“We had a great opportunity to win the game with the last-minute penalty but it wasn’t to be.
“It’s frustrating, we threw away two points today.”