Harry Kane had just struck his 21st Premier League goal of the season and second of a highly entertaining affair at Goodison Park but his grim reaction confirmed personal milestones mean nothing compared to collective achievement for the Tottenham striker.
A point brought little comfort for Kane, Spurs or Everton as their respective European aspirations continue to falter. Kane became the first player to reach 20 league goals for the campaign and the fourth to reach the landmark in five Premier League seasons overall. Only Alan Shearer and Sergio Agüero have hit the 20-goal mark in more Premier League campaigns, seven and six times respectively, but Kane was evidently not in the mood for celebration even before he made it 21 or limped off after Richarlison landed on his foot in stoppage time.
With the Carabao Cup final on Sunday week an injury scare to his leading marksman is the last thing José Mourinho requires as he attempts to validate his Spurs appointment with silverware.
It could, and should, have been worse at Goodison where Carlo Ancelotti’s side missed several excellent chances to record their third win over Spurs this season and gifted Kane his two goals with appalling defending.
Michael Keane was chiefly responsible and was berated by his manager all night. Mason Holgate, his central defensive partner, was not far behind. Their performances took the gloss from a much-improved Everton display in which Gylfi Sigurdsson struck twice, from a debatable penalty and a convincing finish, and James Rodríguez rediscovered his stylish touch.
“We were much better,” said Ancelotti. “I am confident we will keep fighting until the end and then we will see.”
The contest opened at a frenetic pace but with genuine quality and clear-cut opportunities in short supply. Tanguy Ndombele provided the most notable incident of the first 20 minutes when collapsing in a hysterical heap after being accidentally caught on the chin by Ben Godfrey’s arm. Contact was minimal but from the screams that echoed around an empty Goodison, and the way the midfielder clutched his throat while rolling around the ground, you would think the Everton defender had removed his oesophagus without anaesthetic. Truly embarrassing. Kane triggered a vast improvement in the spectacle, however, when dispatching Spurs’ first chance of note in clinical style.
Keane failed to clear Serge Aurier’s hopeful cross from the left and instead glanced an unconvincing header on to the England captain. Holgate was also culpable as he left Kane unmarked to make a strange and needless attempt at a diving header. The Spurs forward controlled superbly before sweeping an unstoppable finish into Jordan Pickford’s bottom right-hand corner. It was Kane’s 11th goal in his last 12 appearances against Everton.
Spurs and leads have not been comfortable bed-fellows this season and they lost another when Everton levelled almost immediately from the penalty spot. Referee Michael Oliver had no hesitation in awarding a spot kick when Rodríguez, arriving into the area to meet Sigurdsson’s pull-back from left, went down under a touch from Sergio Reguilón. The Colombian playmaker went down holding his ankle but the Spurs wing-back did not make contact with Rodríguez’s legs. There was a slight push, and Sigurdsson confidently sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way with the resulting soft penalty.
Everton’s performance improved from that point on. Rodríguez tested Lloris from distance before a sharp exchange with Sigurdsson gave him a clear sight of goal. His shot was straight at the France international, however, who blocked well.
Godfrey also went close on the stroke of half-time when sending an awkward header over from a Rodríguez free-kick. The hosts edged ahead courtesy of an immediate impact from substitute Seamus Coleman and a pristine finish from Sigurdsson. Coleman, on for the anonymous Alex Iwobi, exchanged passes with Richarlison before delivering a perfect cross from the right into the path of the incoming Iceland international. Sigurdsson opened up his body and placed a glorious side-foot shot beyond Lloris.
More calamitous defending by Keane and Holgate ensured this lead did not last long either. Érik Lamela, like Coleman before him, made a swift impression from the substitutes’ bench when he centred from the left. Holgate missed his attempted headed clearance but worse was to come from Keane, who followed up behind and headed the ball into the back of his central defensive partner. The rebound fell perfectly for Kane, who really needs no help in finding the roof of the net. Pickford was given no chance as the Spurs striker thumped home No 21 for the Premier League season.
Josh King, another Everton substitute, almost sealed victory five minutes from time. Lloris again saved Spurs, blocking with his legs, before Richarlison skied an inviting rebound wastefully over. The Brazilian’s next intervention was to leave Kane sweating on his place at Wembley.