Antonio Conte branded Tottenham’s players selfish for squandering an away lead and the initiative in the race for Champions League qualification in his final game as manager. The criticism may have stung Spurs, it may have altered Spurs, but it did not educate Spurs. History repeated itself in the first game post-Conte as Michael Keane’s stunning 90th-minute strike salvaged a valuable point for the 10 men of Everton.
Harry Kane appeared to have played a decisive role in conjuring a victory for Cristian Stellini on his debut as Spurs’ acting head coach. The England captain converted from the penalty spot after Keane had tripped Cristian Romero. Moments earlier he had collapsed theatrically to the ground when shoved in the face by Abdoulaye Doucouré, whose foolishness invited the red card that inevitably followed.
A goal up and a man up, Spurs had everything they required for three points. But they sat back against an Everton team that fed off, or fuelled, a raucous Goodison Park crowd. Lucas Moura entered the fray in the 82nd minute and exited in the 88th having imprinted his studs in Keane’s shin and attracted the second red card of the night. Keane’s contribution was not done. The defender, ostracised by Frank Lampard and recalled by Sean Dyche, collected Ben Godfrey’s pass 30 yards from goal in the final minute and let fly. Hugo Lloris, barely tested other than when tipping over from Idrissa Gana Gueye, was rooted to the spot as a stunning equaliser curled inside his left-hand post and lifted Everton out of the relegation zone.
The point was no more than Dyche’s determined, relentless team deserved. Everton’s position in the table remains precarious and Doucouré will be sorely missed for the next three matches but their improvement under Lampard’s replacement, physically and mentally, is clear. The result lifted Spurs back into the top four but did not bring the same joy or relief as felt by those in royal blue.
Evertonians had again marched in protest against the board of directors before kick-off, their concerns over how badly the club is run heightened by the grim warning in the latest accounts that Everton’s viability as a “going concern” will be in doubt in the event of relegation. Calls from the away section for Daniel Levy to depart as Spurs’ chairman showed discontent is not confined to clubs fighting for Premier League survival. And Dyche’s team displayed plenty of it.
The game was frenetic, a little too frenetic at times with Everton lacking the finesse or presence in the final third to make sustained spells of pressure count. Stellini’s side looked to strike on the counter and created the better chances in the early stages. Jordan Pickford saved from Pedro Porro and Keane blocked on the line when Kane swept a shot past his England colleague on the turn. The forward also steered a free header wide when a delightful cross from Ivan Perisic found him lurking in space between James Tarkowski and Godfrey.
The referee David Coote paused play in the 26th minute to allow players who are observing Ramadan – Gueye, Doucouré and Amadou Onana – to have a drink and something to eat.
Lloris was one of three changes that Stellini made from the 3-3 draw at Southampton that proved to be Conte’s parting shot as the Spurs manager. The veteran, straight back into the team at the expense of Fraser Forster having recovered from injury, was relatively untroubled despite Everton’s pressure and threat from set pieces. One explanation was provided by Gueye moments after the restart when Onana dispossessed Eric Dier and his fellow central midfielder surged forward. Gueye had Doucouré free to his right inside the penalty area but blazed over.
The game’s flash point arrived just before the hour mark. Kane conceded a foul with a trip on Demarai Gray then continued into a 50-50 with Doucouré in front of the dugout, grabbing the Everton midfielder’s shirt as they collided. For some inexplicable reason Doucouré reacted by shoving the Spurs striker in the face. Kane exaggerated contact with an embarrassing fall but the referee simply had no option but to show Doucouré a straight red card.
Chants of “cheat, cheat, cheat” reverberated around Goodison towards Kane, who was booked for his part in the clash, but Everton shot themselves in the other foot when conceding a cheap penalty shortly afterwards. Keane reacted a fraction slower than Romero when the pair attempted to seize on a Perisic header back across the Everton goalmouth and sent the Spurs defender sprawling. Coote immediately awarded a penalty and Kane elevated his pantomime villain status in the eyes of the home crowd by sending Pickford the wrong way from the spot.
Everton refused to accept defeat, however, and roused themselves in the face of Spurs’ lethargic response to edging ahead. Keane’s late intervention was the gloss on a fractious, absorbing night.