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  • Everton 2-1 Tottenham: Saha superb-strike, Van der Vaart header

    Seamus Coleman came back to haunt Tottenham at Goodison Park, on Wednesday 05/01/2010, as his late goal gave Everton a 2-1 Premier League win, landing a blow to Spurs' title hopes.
    With a quarter of an hour left, the Irish winger - who rose to prominence with a superb performance in this fixture last season - finished from close range after Louis Saha’s shot stung the palms of Heurelho Gomes.

    Rafael van der Vaart had cancelled out Saha’s opener in a frantic opening but, as the dust settled, Everton deserved victory after they took the game to the visitors, who were dangerous on the break but were denied by good keeping from Tim Howard.

    It was a big win for David Moyes’s side, whose disappointing season reached a new low when they lost to Stoke last time out: the Toffees go 11th, above Liverpool on goal difference after they slumped to a 3-1 loss at Blackburn.

    Spurs stay fourth but miss the chance to pull away from Chelsea, beaten at Wolves, and close the gap on the leaders after Arsenal and Manchester City drew at the Emirates.

    Everton took a third-minute lead when Saha was afforded time and space to shift the ball on to his weaker right foot before drilling a low shot past the dive of Gomes and into the bottom left.

    Spurs immediately rallied, with Van der Vaart and Peter Crouch putting just wide with a 30-yard lob and a far-post header respectively, and they were soon level as Van der Vaart nodded in from close range after a superb cushioned header by Crouch left the Toffees defence floundering.

    There were no more goals in the first half but plenty of action as both sides attacked with glee, Everton at times showcasing some lovely pass-and-move football.

    Buoyed by his first league goal since February last year, Saha was having one of his better games in recent seasons, bullying William Gallas in the air and showing some sublime touches along with Steven Pienaar.

    But it was the Frenchman’s strike partner, Jermaine Beckford, who wasted the best chance of the half, blasting over from close range after expertly turning Gallas, although in his defence it did appear that the former Leeds poacher had slipped.

    Spurs, meanwhile, looked lively on the counter attack, as Luka Modric pulled the strings and Van der Vaart met another superb Crouch knock-down with an audacious bicycle kick that flew just over.

    And, just before the break, they should have taken the lead but for Crouch’s inability to stay onside when given plenty of time to do so by Gareth Bale after the Welshman latched on to a stray pass from Saha.

    Everton started brightest in the second half, and Coleman should have put them ahead again but fired weakly at Gomes after Saha sent him clean through: Beckford was free inside and the quandary seemed to panic the Irishman at the key moment.

    As with the first half, Spurs recovered their groove and Van der Vaart forced a smart stop from Howard as the little-and-large combination with Crouch continued to prove near-impossible to defend.

    Seconds after that Everton snapped back into control as Saha’s vicious volley was deflected just wide by Alan Hutton, with the next 10 minutes marked by incessant Toffees pressure but an inability to open the visitors up.

    Spurs gave them a warning when, as ever, Van der Vaart arrived late to prod a first-time finish that Howard clawed away, while Crouch had an effort deflected over after a mazy dribble inside from the left.

    For the first time in the match Everton were really up against it, but they found a second on the break after a Spurs free-kick as cleared when Beckford released Saha, whose shot was batted away by Gomes but only into the path of Coleman, who headed into the empty net.

    Howard’s saves were looking vital as the game entered the latter stages, with Spurs cranking the pressure up but the hosts looking more likely on the break: the best chance fell to substitute Ayegbeni Yakubu in injury time, but he dithered when sent clean through by Marouane Fellaini, putting a weak finish against Michael Dawson.

    Spurs went for the direct approach in the closing stages but Everton rode it out comfortably, deservedly winning for only the fifth time this season.
    Reda Maher / Eurosport


    Team Line-up:

    Everton: Howard, Neville, Distin, Heitinga, Baines, Coleman, Arteta, Fellaini, Pienaar, Saha, Beckford; Subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Bilyaletdinov, Osman, Yakubu, Rodwell, Anichebe
    Tottenham Hotspur: Gomes, Hutton, Dawson, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Modric, Jenas, Bale, Van der Vaart, Crouch; Subs: Pletikosa, Pavlyuchenko, Keane, Palacios, Bassong, Kranjcar, Corluka


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