Naz propels Spurs to third in WSL with winner against Everton
By Football Reporter
Jessica Naz’s second-half winner guided Tottenham to third place in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League after beating Everton 1-0 at the Hive Stadium.
Everton remain in ninth position and sit ten points clear off the relegation places.
The visitors made a positive start in the opening ten minutes as Izzy Christiansen, Toni Duggan and Anna Anvegard all threatened but failed to register an effort on target.
Grace Clinton then went on a lung-bursting run on 12 minutes before cutting inside the Tottenham box, only to see her effort superbly blocked by the home side.
The Toffees’ produced another meaningful counter-attack through Duggan, whose inch-perfect cross-cum-shot was tipped over by Tottenham goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela.
In the 31st minute, the visitors capitalised on the home side’s sloppiness and Anvegard almost gave Everton the lead after her effort produced another fine save from Korpela.
Rehanne Skinner’s side registered their first real effort on target when Ria Percival’s dangerous cross found Rachel Williams at the near post, whose header flew inches over the crossbar.
The Lilywhites began the second half on the front foot and finally broke the deadlock in the 51st minute after Naz directed her curling effort into the top corner.
Moments later, Everton’s Anvegard posed a threat on the left flank and almost equalised as her angled shot hit the frame of the woodwork.
The hosts could have doubled their lead in the 68th minute through Naz, who escaped Everton’s backline and fired a low-driving cross to Cho So-Hyun but she failed to meet the cross.
And Skinner’s side held firm to earn a valuable clean sheet and three points.
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Tottenham Hotspur head coach Rehanne Skinner said: “Since I’ve came in, we have managed to make some positive strides over the course of the 12 months and that was capped very nicely with that win against Everton.
“The game was one of two halves, we weren’t fantastic in the first half but we managed to keep a foothold in the game. In the second half, we changed a couple of things and that put us in a position where we were able to win the game.
“We just needed to release some of the players higher up the pitch to ensure we put Everton under more pressure and fault their passes to make it more predictable for us.
“We started to win the ball higher and that led to a few transitions for us and presented more goal scoring opportunities. We came out in the second half with a clear purpose and knew what we needed to do.
“You could see it by the way we pressed, won the ball and were a little bit more direct and more positive in our attacking play. That was rewarded with Jess Naz who is more than capable of scoring goals in a regular basis.
“Once we start to see her in those positions more frequently, we will see more goals out of her and it was a fantastic finish but she does that every day in training so it was a great finish and the timing was perfect for us to get that goal.”
Everton manager Jean-Luc Vasseur said: “We had a very good first-half with a good control and had a good chance to score. At this moment, I think it was one of the best halves we played away from home.
“In the second half, we conceded an outstanding goal and this is football but we didn’t find chances to change the scoreline and we’ve got a lot of strikers out injured.
“The game was one of two halves. We played well in the first half with good control and didn’t score at those moments. I think it’s the gap for us to close and we didn’t succeed.
“But we should never give up. One day, we will set a positive and new momentum.
“We have to accept to concede a goal and it was a wonderful goal from Jessica Naz.
“I think my goalkeeper couldn’t say nothing and the player tried ten times, I think. She never scored so we are not in that situation. We need our players to believe in the project and come back stronger next year.”
Tottenham Hotspur: (3-4-3): Tinja-Riikka Korpela; Shelina Zadorsky, Molly Bartrip, Kerys Harrop; Ashleigh Neville, Ria Percival, Maeva Clemaron, Josie Green; Jessica Naz, Rachel Williams, So-Hyun Cho
Substitutes: Chioma Ubogagu for Green 70’, Angela Addison for Cho 84’
Substitutes not used: Rosella Ayane, Esther Morgan, Rebecca Spencer, Jiali Tang
Goals: Naz 51’
Bookings: Naz 14’, Neville 56’
Everton: (4-3-3): Courtney Brosnan; Rikke Sevecke, Nathalie Bjorn, Gabrielle George, Danielle Turner; Lucy Graham, Grace Clinton, Aurora Galli; Izzy Christiansen, Anna Anvegard, Toni Duggan
Substitutes: Hanna Bennison for Clinton 63’, Simone Magill for Anvegard 63’, Poppy Pattinson for Galli 82’, Leonie Maier for Christiansen 86’
Substitutes not used: Megan Finnigan, Sandy Maclver
Bookings: Galli 39’, Graham 43’
Referee: Elizabeth Simms