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Spurs back in fourth position after Everton win

Tottenham regained fourth place in the Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Everton at White Hart Lane here on Sunday.

First-half goals from in-form Roman Pavlyuchenko and Luka Modric proved enough to lift them above Manchester City.

Ayegbeni Yakubu’s second-half reply proved to be insufficient for a point, although Everton had plenty of chances to equalise.

Neither side’s preparations for the game had been ideal as Everton bowed out of the Europa League via a 3-0 loss at Sporting Lisbon on Thursday, by which time a virus had swept through Tottenham’s training ground.

Vedran Corluka and Wilson Palacios had been ill but were able to start, with Everton manager David Moyes making five changes and pairing Victor Anichebe and Yakubu in attack in the absence of Louis Saha, who had just been recalled to the France squad after a long absence.

Everton captain Phil Neville was booked in the ninth minute for a reckless tackle on Gareth Bale as Tottenham made a strong start.

That materialised into the opening goal two minutes later as Pavlyuchenko netted for the fifth time in three games.

Jermain Defoe took down a long ball from Tom Huddlestone on the right and sent in a pacy ball across the box that may well have been a shot.

If so it would have gone wide but Pavlyuchenko had anticipated perfectly to first avoid being caught offside and secondly to stick out a leg and divert the ball into the net.

Goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes almost gifted Everton an equaliser however when he dropped a corner at Yakubu’s feet and it needed a block from Tottenham captain Michael Dawson to prevent a certain goal.

Pavlyuchenko, who just a few days beforehand had accused his manager of making fun of him by not playing him very often, was adopting a shoot on sight policy and forced a parry from Tim Howard, the Everton goalkeeper, with an effort from distance.

Modric had been quiet but made his mark with the second goal in the 28th minute.

The midfielder received the ball from fellow Croat Niko Kranjcar and, having used quick footwork to get into the box, lofted the ball over Howard and into the net off the underside of the crossbar for a goal of rare quality.

Everton chances had been rare but Jack Rodwell headed a good one wide after Neville’s cross had found him at the near post.

There was another alarm at the other end seconds later however when Defoe was inches away from connecting with Bale’s ball across the six-yard box.

Leon Osman was replaced in midfield by England international Phil Jagielka at the start of the second half and Gomes was soon needed to keep out a drive from John Heitinga.

Tom Huddlestone was hurt in the act of firing wide as Tottenham replied with a slick passing move and had to be replaced by Younes Kaboul.

Everton were back in the game in the 55th minute through Yakubu after Tottenham failed to defend a corner. Pavlyuchenko and Gomes failed to deal with Rodwell’s header at the back post and Yakubu bundled home the loose ball ahead of Anichebe.

Gomes then had to parry a Rodwell drive before Landon Donovan came on for Anichebe just after the hour mark and the Brazilian was needed again to keep out Steven Pienaar’s drive as Everton pressed for an equaliser.

Donovan should have provided one but somehow found the side-netting from an unmarked position at the back post after Rodwell’s cross had flashed across the box. It was to prove a costly miss.

Sun 28 February, 2010
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