Everton blow chance

2009-05-09 19:05

 Ian Winrow

Liverpool - Everton blew a great chance to move ahead of Aston Villa into fifth place in the Premier League when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Tottenham at Goodison Park on Saturday.

A solitary point means David Moyes's side failed to take advantage of Villa's 3-1 defeat at Fulham and still lie one point behind the Midlands club.

But having lost Phil Jagielka to a serious knee problem last week, Everton manager Moyes could at least draw comfort from the fact that he suffered no further injuries ahead of the FA Cup final meeting with Chelsea on May 30.

The draw meant Spurs' own European ambitions were also hit, with Harry Redknapp's side losing ground in the race to finish seventh.

Tottenham had been depleted before kick-off by the loss of Wilson Palacios, who returned to London following reports that authorities in his native Honduras had found the remains of the midfielder's younger brother Edwin, who was kidnapped two years ago.

Redknapp's men seemed unable to grasp the initiative against an Everton side who looked as though their thoughts were already drifting towards the cup final.

The Spurs boss entrusted his side's attacking responsibilities to Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane but they made little impression against Everton's imposing defenders.

Shaky start

Most of the visitors' early attacking moves stemmed from the efforts of Alan Hutton - the Scottish international full-back making his first start since injuring his foot in November - on the right wing.

But their best opening came in the 14th minute when Keane worked his way into the Everton area and could have produced a goal had he pulled the ball back for Defoe instead of sending a cross too near to keeper Tim Howard.

Everton struggled to match even that and the home side's best hope of breaking the deadlock appeared to rest with Spurs' wildly inconsistent goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

The Brazilian has worked his way back into favour after a shaky start to his first season in the Premier League.

But Redknapp must have wondered if his keeper had slipped back into bad habits when Gomes flapped at a Leighton Baines cross and then narrowly escaped as he attempted to side-step Jo inside his own penalty area.

Having been uncharacteristically half-paced for the opening 45 minutes, Everton finally injected at least some urgency into their play after the interval.

While Spurs shrank as an attacking force, the home side at last began to apply some pressure.


Australian midfielder Tim Cahill had been quiet throughout, but he connected with one of the most convincing efforts of the game when he flashed a half-volley narrowly wide in the 58th minute.

And Dan Gosling came closest to finally delivering the goal the game desperately needed when the Spurs defence could only half clear Steven Pienaar's corner and the young midfielder struck a 20-yard shot that bounced into the ground and up against the upright in the 69th minute.

That at least sparked a response from Tottenham, and in particular Defoe.

The England striker had cut a peripheral figure throughout the game but he sprang into life when he collected a ball on the outside of the box, turned quickly, and drilled a left foot shot wide.