Any chance of this taxing season having a happy ending for Spurs – and the embattled Jose Mourinho – now rests upon the severity of Kane’s injury…
Kane’s Brilliance Overshadowed By Late Injury
Tottenham drew 2-2 at Goodison Park on a night where Harry Kane scored two magnificent goals but then sustained a worrying ankle injury which jeopardises his involvement in next weekend’s League Cup final.
Watching the disconsolate England captain limp from the pitch in second-half injury-time, it was impossible to decipher whether his anguish emanated solely from his damaged right foot. While Kane undoubtedly loves Spurs, the reality that – for the second away match in succession – his outstanding efforts yielded just one point instead of three must surely grate upon him.
With both sides desperately out of form, the opening quarter of an hour was a wretched spectacle, strewn with careless mistakes and insipid passes. The only real entertainment in those opening exchanges came from the hypochondriacal duo of Richarlison and Ndombele, with both men seemingly intent on making a great deal of whatever little physical contact came their way.
The animated Brazilian had the game’s first real chance in the 21st minute when he was played through by James Rodriguez. The Colombian, who inspired Everton to victory over the North Londoners on the opening day of the season, was again the most potent creative force in either team. Glancing one way while sending the ball the other, he punched a hole through Tottenham’s rearguard that left Richarlison with a clear sight of goal. The forward’s low shot lacked both sufficient power and precision to elude Lloris’s dive.
Tottenham reacted by fashioning their maiden attack of the match soon after. Ndombele struck a speculative shot that was blocked on the edge of the area and then followed the ball’s trajectory out to the left-wing. Reguilon worked a pass into the Frenchman who sent an inswinging cross towards the near post. Michael Keane rose to repel it with his head but only managed to skim the ball further towards the goalmouth. There, lurking behind the Everton defence, was Kane. The striker, on the stretch, instantly killed the ball with his first touch before swivelling and thumping home left-footed with his second. The goal was Kane’s 20th in the Premier League this season and marked the fifth time in his Tottenham career where he has achieved a score of top-flight goals.
Everton responded swiftly. Despite Jose Mourinho reverting to his belt and braces midfield pairing of Sissoko and Hojbjerg, Sigurdsson – like Rodriguez before him – was soon finding space around the Spurs box. The Icelander collected the ball on the left before cutting it back astutely to the base of the area where Rodriguez had stolen a march on Reguilon. Caught the wrong side and panicking, the full-back clipped the Everton man’s leg at the very moment it was being cocked to shoot. The well-placed referee Michael Oliver immediately blew for a penalty, which Sigurdsson dispatched with his customary aplomb.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Everton pressed forward, exploiting the lethargy that has come to characterise Mourinho’s Spurs. A weak clearance from Reguilon again allowed Sigurdsson to part the Spurs defence with a sharp pass to Rodriguez. Only a fine reflex save from Lloris kept Rodriguez at bay.
In first-half injury-time, the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner almost teed up what would have been a fully merited half-time lead for the Toffees. His menacing free-kick from the left touchline bypassed five Tottenham defenders. But such was the pace on the ball as it skidded up from the turf, Ben Godfrey was unable to direct his header on target from within the six-yard box.
The interval arrived at a good time for Spurs. And following the restart, the visitors enjoyed their most coherent attacking spell of the contest. Kane encouraged Son to take the ball for a walk on the left flank. The Korean effortlessly stepped away from Michael Keane and cut in towards goal on the angle. The forward opted to shoot rather than seeking out Kane with a pull-back but could not find a way past Pickford at the near post.
With 55 minutes on the clock, Kane smuggled a pass into Ndombele. The Frenchman shimmied and then shot from 18 yards but saw his effort balloon off Lucas Digne. Momentarily the ball threatened to drop below the crossbar, but the scrambling Pickford was relieved that it just cleared it. From the resulting corner, Alderweireld rushed to the front post to meet Reguilon’s delivery. The centre-half was unfortunate to see his stooping header kiss the outside of the post.
Just after the hour mark, Carlo Ancelotti replaced Alex Iwobi’s anaemic threat for the thrust of Seamus Coleman. It was a change that bore instant fruit. The substitute played a sweet one-two with Richarlison before squaring the ball to the penalty spot. Sigurdsson’s superb first-time finish flashed past the helpless Lloris.
Now that Tottenham had to chase the game, Mourinho wasted no time making two changes of his own. Lamela and Moura replaced Ndombele and Reguilon. That Ndombele headed for the changing room while Reguilon angrily threw down the jacket he’d received as he departed the pitch says much about the discontent that currently permeates the Spurs squad.
Lamela, however, took only fractionally longer than Coleman had to leave his mark on the match. The Argentine collected Serge Aurier’s throw-in close to the byline and checked back onto his left foot. While his centre was competent enough, it was the slapstick defending of Everton’s centre-backs that proved decisive. Holgate jumped but then, hearing a call from his partner Keane, pulled his head away. Keane then nodded the ball against his own man and was aghast to see it cannon off in Harry Kane’s direction. This time the striker only required one unerring touch to finish. Pickford again had no chance. The goal elevated Kane to 7th in the list of all-time Premier League top scorers. It will not escape Tottenham’s talisman that all those above him on that list have won the competition.
The striker came close to completing his hattrick with 20 minutes to play when his glancing header from Lucas Moura’s cross shaved Pickford’s far post. But rather than going all out for a sorely needed win in their quest for European football next season, Tottenham receded. Eric Dier, who endured another difficult night, saw his sloppy pass inside intercepted. Rodriguez latched onto it and played in Josh King for what should have been a late winner. The Norwegian rushed his shot which Lloris kept out well with his legs but could not prevent from ricochetting to Richarlison. With the keeper grounded and the goal gaping, the former Watford forward blazed wildly over the bar.
Richarlison would, however, inadvertently deliver a potentially killer blow to Spurs in injury time. Tussling to connect with a last-gasp corner, he fell on Harry Kane’s troublesome ankle, which contorted under the weight. Immediately replaced by Dele Alli, Kane was still pensively making his way around the pitch’s perimeter when the final whistle blew.
Any chance of this taxing season having a happy ending for Spurs – and the embattled Jose Mourinho – now rests upon the severity of Kane’s injury and whether in just nine short days he will be in any shape to lead the Tottenham line at Wembley.
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