Two goals in injury-time earned Everton a dramatic 2-1 win over Tottenham in a drab Premier League encounter at Goodison Park on Sunday.
The meeting between two sides with Champions League ambitions looked like being a lively affair, but goalmouth action was at premium throughout the 90 minutes on Merseyside, until first Steven Pienaar and then Nikica Jelavic scored in as many minutes to cancel out Clint Dempsey’s opener and earn Everton an unlikely win.
The first half perhaps set the tone for the rest of the afternoon, and was a largely cagey affair, although the home side had by far the better chances and possession and would have been disappointed to go into the break level.
The opening 10 minutes was a highlight of the afternoon, with both sides going at each other with real pace and purpose, with Everton’s recalled duo of Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas linking up well down the right on several occasions.
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris also had to be sharp to come speeding off his line to quell an attack by Jelavic after the Croatia striker evaded the offside trap.
After that bright start, the game settled into a pattern with neither side able to force clear-cut opportunities, although Everton had two decent-looking claims for penalties turned down by the referee.
The first, an alleged handball by Dempsey, was rightly turned down, however an appeal for another handle, this time by William Gallas, was perhaps wrongly waved away.
Tottenham were content to hit their hosts on the counter-attack for most of the opening period, however in the early stages of the second they began to build more fluent and patient attacks.
Their first real chance of the game came when big Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen blasted a free-kick at goal which stung the palms of Tim Howard as the American goalkeeper turned the ball over the crossbar.
But the second half soon settled into a familiar tale to the opening period, with neither side creating any out-and-out chances or increasing the tempo of the game.
It took a moment of quality from Tottenham’s summer signing Dempsey to break the deadlock.
The American received the ball just outside the Everton area and his shot at goal took a deflection off Sylvain Distin and lofted over the helpless Howard.
The goal seemed to spark the home side into life as they adopted a more direct approach in a bid to get back into the game.
However it was Tottenham who nearly doubled their lead when substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson saw his shot cannon off the crossbar with just five minutes left to play.
But minutes later there was delirium inside the ground as Pienaar got his head on a cross from Coleman to earn an equaliser against his former club.
And then just minutes later Jelavic pounced on a loose ball in the Tottenham area to slam home a winner for the home side.