Everton Focus - Pienaar and Jelavic the difference in tight Tottenham win
Everton’s 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday offered great relief for goal scorers Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic and the club as a whole. For the players, it was one in the eye for the club that sold the former in the summer, while the latter got his first goal in five barren games. For the club, it was a much-needed win, only the second in the Premier League since the end of September.
The three points mean Everton leap into fourth on goal difference, above Spurs and West Bromwich Albion. The Toffees’ Champions League push had appeared to stall with seven draws in nine games as Everton swapped their usual early season falter for a middle of the campaign stumble. Beating Tottenham, though, puts David Moyes’ side in the driving seat for what promises to be an extremely tight race. That Everton have hung on to the coattails of the sides above them even when unable to hold on to a lead or keep a clean sheet says a lot about the resolute nature of Moyes’ squad.
As much was seen in the manner of the victory - Everton looked close to dead and buried when Clint Dempsey’s deflected shot looped over his compatriot Tim Howard. There were only around 15 minutes to play and although Everton had built some pressure, clear cut chances were few and far between. Everton already risked running out of ideas when the game was goalless - breaking down a Spurs side buoyed by taking the lead was likely to be a difficult proposition.
But Everton did it. It was not particularly pretty, all long diagonal balls to the towering Marouane Fellaini or Apostolos Vellios and hurried knocks forward, but sometimes needs must. Rather ironically, considering the direct response to falling behind, the equaliser was scored via a header from Pienaar, one of the smallest players on the pitch, while Vellios’ overhead kick assist for Jelavic’s winner was lost in the commotion. The goals, within less than three minutes of each other, also ensured Everton maintained their unbeaten home record.
If Everton can use this result as a catalyst, a wake-up call to jolt the team out of their half-slumber, then it will mean more than three points. Pienaar and Jelavic have both been off the pace of late, both perhaps trying too hard rather than letting their natural game show. But each goal offered a sweet moment for the player and the supporters. Tottenham’s travellers greeted one scuffed Pienaar shot with the taunt: “That’s why we sold you”. Everton responded after Pienaar’s goal with: “That’s why we bought you”.
It was not a vintage performance though and the game could have gone either way. A goal up, Tottenham hit the bar through Gylfi Sigurdsson. Had the Icelander’s shot been a little lower Spurs would have doubtless sealed the points and Everton would have been left to wonder where they are going wrong, winless since mid-November. On such fine margins can seasons hang.
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