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Emmanuel Adebayor scored the only goal of the game as Tottenham Hotspur sealed a narrow victory over Everton to move above the Merseyside club in the Barclays Premier League table.
The Togo striker produced his sixth Barclays Premier League goal in nine appearances with a fine second-half finish at White Hart Lane on Sunday, a strike that ensured Spurs replaced the Roberto Martinez’s side in fifth place.
Everton had the better of much of the match but lacked a cutting edge in the absence of a recognised striker as their hopes of securing a top-four finish suffered a setback.
The hosts were thrashed 5-1 by Manchester City in their last home match, but Tim Sherwood's side got back on track to move two points above Everton and three behind fourth-placed Liverpool.
Martinez’s side’s away form is becoming their downfall in the race for UEFA Champions League football, as they have won only one of their last six Barclays Premier League encounters on their travels.
Fit-again midfielder Moussa Dembele replaced Roberto Soldado in the Tottenham Hotspur starting line-up, while Andros Townsend was among the substitutes after recovering from a hamstring problem that has sidelined the winger since December.
Everton defender Seamus Coleman also returned from a hamstring injury and came into the side along with Steven Pienaar and Steven Naismith as Ross Barkley, John Stones and Aiden McGeady dropped to the bench.
The visitors lined up without a recognised striker as Naismith got the nod to play in a more advanced role, but they still showed plenty of attacking threat early on.
Leon Osman had four chances to open the scoring in the first eight minutes, twice shooting straight at Hugo Lloris and also forcing the France goalkeeper into an outstanding fingertip save with a right-foot strike before heading Naismith's corner just wide.
Despite Everton's bright start, they were almost caught out when Danny Rose was allowed too much space to foray forward and deliver a dangerous cross that only just evaded Adebayor.
Martinez’s side undoubtedly had the better of the first half, though, and the lively Kevin Mirallas embarked on an incisive run from inside his own half and burst into the penalty area before firing over the bar eight minutes before the break.
Mirallas was off target again five minutes into the second half with a right-foot drive from outside the area as the north Londoners struggled to live with Everton's brisk passing and movement.
Townsend replaced Christian Eriksen after 58 minutes as Sherwood attempted to give the home side some impetus, and the winger's England team-mate Barkley replaced former Spurs midfielder Pienaar for Everton five minutes later.
And it was Sherwood’s side who broke the deadlock out of the blue after 65 minutes, when Kyle Walker picked out Adebayor with a free-kick that caught Everton out and the striker controlled the ball on his chest before beating Tim Howard with a clinical left-foot finish.
Gerard Deulofeu made his return from injury and Martinez also brought on McGeady in search of an equaliser, but Adebayor came close to sealing the points with a second goal when he fired over.
Jermain Defoe was given a run out in front of the White Hart Lane faithful for the final time before his move to Toronto FC and almost signed off in style with a goal in stoppage time, but Howard denied the England international.
Spurs head coach Tim Sherwood: "Our game plan was to put pressure on high up the field and we didn't do that in the first half but second half we adjusted and had the ascendency and they didn't open us up once. I wasn't concerned. You want to have chances and shots at goal but if your ratio is one shot on target and one goal I'll take that.
"Emmanuel Adebayor took his goal well. We are delighted with the result. Yes the performance can be better but it's about character and grinding it out. I thought we were chalk and cheese between the two halves. Hugo Lloris was good for us in the first half. It was a huge result. It was a cup final. Sometimes people take cups and don't play very well."
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "We dropped our concentration. When the free-kick was given for whatever reason we were feeling sorry for ourselves, because it could have been a free-kick going the other way just two seconds before. Nobody steps in front of the ball and, the backline, we don't recover quickly enough. Our backline is too spread out and that's our downfall."
"We started the game really well. My concern before the game was to be able to come to White Hart Lane and be ourselves, control the game and impose ourselves on the opposition and we did that.
"It's fair to say that sometimes in football you're better to be lucky than good and today we played a good role and we didn't play the lucky one. But from our point of view the first half was a very good performance, if there's any criticism you need to hit the back of the net when you get the chances that we had. If you're going to tell me Spurs would have one shot on target before the game I would have taken that.
"Looking at the performance it's disappointing because you don't get a positive result, but if we can take this type of performance into the next 13 games we are going to get a lot of points."
|12 Feb 2014||v Newcastle (A)|
|23 Feb 2014||v Norwich (A)|
|02 Mar 2014||v Cardiff (H)|
|08 Mar 2014||v Chelsea (A)|
|16 Mar 2014||v Arsenal (H)|
|23 Mar 2014||v Southampton (H)|