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By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent, at White Hart Lane
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Premier League: Tottenham 1 Everton 0
Emmanuel Adebayor struck a vital second-half winner as Tottenham won their crucial top-four clash against Everton at White Hart Lane.
A disjointed Spurs side struggled to make inroads in the first half, with the Toffees dominating possession and creating the better chances – particularly when Hugo Lloris saved from Leon Osman early on.
Indeed, the Lilywhites failed to test Everton keeper Tim Howard for the first hour. But Adebayor then latched onto Kyle Walker’s quickly-taken free-kick to give the hosts the all-important breakthrough, and theY survived a strong penalty shout in injury-time to secure the three points.
Today’s victory meant the Lilywhites leapfrogged Roberto Martinez’s side to claim fifth place, while fourth-placed Liverpool remain just three points ahead.
Tim Sherwood made one change from the side that had lined up against Hull in their previous outing, with Mousa Dembele replacing Roberto Soldado, who dropped to the bench – and Andros Townsend returned to the squad, starting among the substitutes.
Everton created an early flurry of chances, with Osman at the centre of the action. The 32-year-old curled the ball wide of the top corner from the edge of the box and then unleashed another rasping effort which forced Lloris into a fine flying save, before placing a weak shot straight at the Frenchman.
Spurs grew into the game and Christian Eriksen put a free-kick just over the bar, onto the roof of the net, and Adebayor was then inches away from making contact with Danny Rose’s excellent low cross four yards out.
However, the Toffees enjoyed most of the possession and pressure in last 15 minutes of the first period, and Kevin Mirallas embarked on a mazy dribble, ignoring a pass which would have freed Steven Naismith, and shot over the bar.
The Spurs coaches were clearly irritated by the first-half display as they shouted at their players to get closer to their opponents and press them more aggressively, while moving the ball quicker when in possession.
The second half was a more even affair and Adebayor headed wide from a corner shortly after the restart, but Sherwood still cut an animated figure on the touchline, kicking a drinks bottle in a fit of anger and urging his players forward.
Townsend replaced Eriksen, who had struggled to make an impact on the left-hand side, just before the hour-mark - and seven minutes later Spurs had the lead as the alert Walker sent a quick free-kick forward to Adebayor, who chested the ball down and rifled into the bottom left corner to net his seventh goal in 11 games.
Sherwood quickly made his second change, introducing Etienne Capoue, and Adebayor sent a powerful effort over the bar before Jermain Defoe came on in place of Aaron Lennon in the latter stages.
White Hart Lane had to endure a nervy finish as they sought to hold on to their slender advantage, and Spurs looked fortunate to survive a penalty in injury-time as Capoue felled Seamus Coleman just inside the box.
Referee Mark Clattenburg waved away the appeals, and Spurs nearly scored on the break as Defoe forced Howard to save with his legs, registering the home team’s second shot on target just before the final whistle – which produced huge cheers and relief all around the Lane.
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose, Bentaleb, Dembele, Lennon (Defoe 85), Paulinho (Capoue 67), Eriksen (Townsend 58), Adebayor
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