Michael Keane’s own goal gave Tottenham a scrappy 1-0 win over Everton to dent the Toffees’ European hopes.
From point-blank range, Keane inadvertently turned Giovani Lo Celso’s shot past Jordan Pickford after 24 minutes of a game lacking quality and intensity depsite both sides’ European qualification hopes.
Heung-Min Son and Hugo Lloris almost came to blows at the interval with the goalkeeper unhappy with his team-mate’s work-rate in tracking a Richarlison run and shot moments earlier, and had to be kept apart by Lo Celso as they headed down the tunnel.
After half-time Son twice went close to adding to Spurs’ lead while Everton’s continued lack of tempo hampered any hopes of seriously testing Lloris, and left them 10th, four points off their hosts who now occupy the final Europa League qualifying spot in eighth.
Spurs get job done – but little more
A game which offered plenty with two imposing front lines on display, and both still in contention for European qualification, really struggled for tempo in the opening 20 minutes, with only Lucas Moura’s 25-yard effort coming close to offering anything meaningful.
It took little in the way of intensity to break the deadlock as persistence alone proved sufficient 24 minutes in, after Son’s initial shot was only half-cleared and surrounded by a sea of blue shirts, Harry Kane’s shot deflected into Lo Celso’s path, and a big touch off Keane took his effort beyond a wrong-footed Jordan Pickford.
Somehow, that did not end up as the talking point of the first half. Richarlison whistled a shot wide on the stroke of half-time after a run from deep which left Lloris furious with Son for failing to stop, and the pair almost came to blows as they headed down the tunnel at the interval.
By the start of the second period they were already pictured embracing again with any hatchets buried in the dressing room, and perhaps it inspired the South Korean, who was denied on the angle by Pickford within minutes of the restart.
He twice went close again as Spurs searched for a second goal, while also threatening to be masters of their own downfall by giving away a number of free-kicks in dangerous positions. However, only a comfortable Dominic Calvert-Lewin flick gave Lloris any work to do, as Spurs held on with ease to bounce back from last week’s defeat at Sheffield United.
Analysis: Ancelotti has work to do
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate…
Unbeaten since the restart and having won their two previous games coming into this one, Everton had the opportunity to overtake Tottenham with a victory in London.
Instead, they struggled to impose themselves on the game and did not commit enough bodies to the attack until it was far too late. Indeed, it was not until the 81st minute that they had their first attempt from inside the penalty box.
Carlo Ancelotti has Everton going in the right direction but this was a reminder that there is some way still to go – something that Gary Neville noted on co-commentary for Sky Sports.
“The biggest job that Carlo Ancelotti has is to change the mentality,” said Neville. “You just sometimes feel that Everton start a game, they look promising, and then all of a sudden a goal goes in against them and their inferiority complex means they lose belief, particularly in big games. There is no need. They have talented players. Get on the ball. Get to the ball.
“It is a big task and it is a big club. He has just got to shift the mindset. It is almost as though the players feel they don’t belong. They don’t really believe they should beat big teams and belong in these big games. I hope the Everton players don’t get on the bus and think they were unlucky. It has not been good enough. It has been boring.”
In truth, there have been some encouraging results at Goodison Park this season. Everton have been beaten by only one of the top six on home turf. But with only one point to their name against top-half teams away from home, that’s an area that Ancelotti must address.
Tottenham next travel to Bournemouth on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5.30pm; kick-off at 6pm.
On the same evening, Everton will host Southampton at Goodison Park; kick-off at 6pm.