Tottenham 1 Everton 0
Spurs edged a pretty humdrum affair, thanks to a deflected first half goal – and looked like a team ambling, rather than sprinting to the finish line.
They failed to set the pulses racing in a game that had a few good moments, but ultimately failed to ignite.
Jose Mourinho’s men badly needed to reboot a season in danger of ending in a whimper – even if we are in the last knockings and Champions League football next season has looked unlikely for a while now.
Theirs has not been a brilliant post-lockdown period – save for the home win against West Ham, which at least signalled the goalscoring return of Harry Kane. They are in need of fresh impetus to excite the fanbase ahead of next season. Maybe it will take the visit of Arsenal to rouse them one last time before the curtain falls on this elongated season.
Everton, thumped 4-0 by Chelsea in their last visit to the capital, just before the shut-down, have arguably had a more upbeat time since the restart, holding Liverpool to a draw and winning twice. But they are still mid-table. Still fodder for those with ambition as a wretched recent record against leading clubs underlines. They had no wins in 39 against the top six going into the match.
It took 20 minutes for either sider to fashion anything like a half-chance – Lucas Moura thrashing Harry Wink’s square ball just past Jordan Pickford’s right-hand post.
It changed the mood. Moments later, Heung-Min Son and Kane had the visiting defence in a dither before Giovani Lo Celso swivelled to send the ball into the net with the aid of a huge deflection off Michael Keane – the 24th minute goal being logged as an OG.
Tails up, another raid involving Kane and Son ended with Lo Celso being chopped down on the edge of the area by Nathan Holgate – who was booked for the challenge and then limped off. Eric Dier’s subsequent free-kick over the wall hit the roof of the net.
The Toffees flattered to deceive – the only threat before the break coming from an angled header by Dominic Calvert-Lewin which Hugo Lloris made a bit of a meal of until some sloppy play allowed Richarlison to fizz a low effort just past the far post as the first half drew to a close.
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti brought on Anthony Gordon for the second helpings and the 19-year-old newcomer was very soon testing Lloris with a well-struck daisy-cutter.
Spurs responded with efforts from Son and Winks – the first of those requiring a sharp save from Pickford, then the South Korean peppered the target with two more stinging efforts before making way for Steven Bergwijn.
Son had a heated exchange with Lloris as the pair came off at half-time – an unlikely source of a spat. But perhaps it told of tensions and uncertainty below the surface in a team that just a year ago had contested the biggest prize in European club football. Life post-Poch is still an uncertain beast.
Tottenham: Lloris – Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies – Winks, Sissoko – Lucas (Lamela 82), Lo Celso (Vertonghen 90), Son (Bergwijn 78) – Kane. Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Sanchez, Ndombele, Skipp, Fernandes, Cirkin