Tottenham Hotspur again enjoyed their away day at Goodison Park, inflicting Everton's first defeat at Goodison in 2006 and achieving their sixth win there in fourteen Premiership visits.
A Robbie Keane (Pic: above) penalty in the first half gave them the three points to keep them on track for a European place for next season. The contest remains close and there is still work to be done in the next four games.
This win gives Spurs 61 points and their sixth away win of the season. The win was more comfortable than the score line suggests as Spurs played some good football and controlled much of the game. Paul Robinson had litle to do and it was only in the final fifteen minutes as Everton launched an aerial bombardment that the Spurs defence came under any sustained pressure.
Jermain Defoe replaced the injured Mido, the only change to last week's winning team. The team started well and without Mido as the target man, played good passing football on the ground, with Defoe and Lennon using their pace to pressurise the Everton defence. Everton relied on James Beattie who worked hard against King and Gardner, causing them some problems. Lennon created two good chances from great runs, setting up Gardner who headed weakly and a header from Tainio being well saved. From a corner, King just failed to reach the ball in the six yard box but from a square pass into the penalty area by Lee to Keane, the Irish captain was fouled by Stubbs. The ball broke to Jenas who scored but the referee had awarded the penalty. As against West Brom, Keane again held his nerve to put Spurs ahead, a lead they thoroughly deserved.
For the second half, Danny Murphy replaced Tainio who had an injury and both sides started brightly with opportunities to score in the first five minutes. Everton had a chance but Spurs cleared and then the visitors had two opportunities in quick succession, with Wright making two good saves from Jenas and Defoe. Spurs continued to look for the second goal to secure the win and had further chances when Jenas got free but ran out of room, Wright saved from Keane and then from a good passing movement, Keane and Defoe combined to create an opening for Defoe which went for a corner. With twenty minutes remaining, Defoe showed his ability by turning on the edge of the penalty area and crashing the ball against the bar with Wright beaten.
By this time Everton had brought on Duncan Ferguson to add to their aerial attack. He certainly added to the pressure on the Spurs defence but King and Gardner coped adequately with Robinson being rarely troubled. It was only in the final ten minutes that Spurs went to all out defence, defending for their lives, Lennon was replaced by Calum Davenport to give some additional support to the central defenders. Spurs held on through five minutes of added time with Robinson coming bravely to punch clear as the high balls continued to be pumped into the penalty area from free-kicks and corners. Relieved to hear the final whistle, Spurs had done everything that was asked of them, deserving the three points. The major worry at the end was King hopping off in injury time to be replaced by Davids. With Manchester United at White Hart Lane on Easter Monday and Arsenal at Highbury next Saturday, it is to be hoped that his injury is not as serious as it looked.
Team: Robinson, Stalteri, King (Davids), Gardner, Lee,Lennon (Davenport) , Jenas, Carrick, Tainio (Murphy), Keane, Defoe. Subs: (unused) Cerny, Barnard.
Comments after the game - Everton manager David Moyes:
"No complaints. Tottenham were the better side, probably as good as any side we have had at Goodison Park this year.
"Our lads tried everything they could but it didn't happen for us. Tottenham came here and showed why they are doing so well.
Spurs head coach Martin Jol:
"This was a very important game and we are delighted to have won at a difficult place.
"Our aim is to make everybody happy at the club and the Premiership table has made good reading for a while.
"Everton are a strong side who play English football, but we coped with that. We pressed them and created chances.
"I am only disappointed we didn't score more goals from the chances we created. Everton didn't create a lot and we looked good."