Manager Jose Mourinho brought up his 200th Premier League victory as Tottenham edged past Everton – though home players Hugo Lloris and Son Heung-min had to be separated by team-mates during the match.
A tepid contest threatened to boil over as the teams left the pitch at half-time when Spurs skipper Lloris ran over and shoved Son in the back.
The South Korea forward tried to react but was pushed down the tunnel by his team-mates, with others having to hold back France World Cup-winning keeper Lloris.
But the pair put their differences aside at full-time as they shared a warm hug before leaving the pitch.
The half-time clash was the flashpoint of a largely uneventful affair which was settled by Michael Keane’s own goal, the ball deflecting in off the Everton defender from Giovani lo Celso’s strike.
The Toffees barely threatened in a poor attacking display and substitute Anthony Gordon’s long-range strike, which was straight at Lloris, their only shot of note.
The win keeps alive Tottenham’s hopes of playing European football next season. They move up to eighth, four points behind sixth-placed Wolves, while Everton stay in 11th.
Spurs players show much-needed fight
Mourinho has seen his winning prowess wane since taking the Spurs job in November, but reached a significant milestone against the Toffees.
He has had two spells at Chelsea and been in charge of Manchester United, and he becomes the fifth manager to reach a double century of Premier League victories – with Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp and David Moyes the others to achieve the feat.
The 57-year-old had questioned the mentality of his players after a desperate 3-1 loss to Sheffield United last time out, saying afterwards he was “destroyed a little bit on the inside” by the result.
But the players hit back to stay in contention for the top six – where they have finished in the past 10 seasons – with Lloris and Son two to show they are up for the fight.
The incident seemed to come out of nothing as the Tottenham players headed down the tunnel, but Lloris seemed particularly incensed by the contributions of his team-mate and determined to let him know about it.
The pair embraced at the final whistle and Mourinho will surely be pleased with the passion shown by his players as they kept Everton at bay for only their fifth clean sheet in 30 games under the Portuguese.
Son saw two strikes kept out well by keeper Jordan Pickford, but three points will be welcome for Spurs – it was only their second win in their past 10 games – though striker Harry Kane was subdued throughout and must wait to net his 200th career goal.
Toffees come unstuck
Everton have enjoyed a revival since Carlo Ancelotti took over as manager, with only Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal picking up more points since the appointment of the three-time Champions League winner in December.
Neither side set a mediocre game alight, but the defeat at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium leaves the Merseysiders in the bottom half of the table and extinguishes any faint hopes of claiming a European spot with five games left.
Though their overall performance was steady, Everton lacked any real creativity or inventiveness in the final third, failing to force Lloris to make a save in the first half.
Gordon’s low drive and efforts from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Moise Kean in the second period were all very comfortable for the Spurs goalkeeper to deal with.
Tottenham travel to Bournemouth on Thursday (kick-off 18:00 BST), while Everton host Southampton at the same time.
Everton’s capital punishment – the stats
- Tottenham boss Mourinho has become the fifth manager to reach 200 Premier League victories, with only Ferguson (322) doing so in fewer games (326).
- Spurs are unbeaten in 15 league games against Everton – winning eight – which is their longest run without defeat against an opponent in the competition.
- Everton have lost half of their Premier League games in London (78 out of 156), with only Newcastle (79) losing more in the English capital.
- Tottenham have kept a clean sheet in two of their past three league games – as many as they had in their previous 14.
- Everton committed 18 fouls in this game – only against Aston Villa in August (18) have they conceded as many in a league match this season.
- Keane’s own goal was Everton’s third in the league in 2019-20, with no side having scored more. Meanwhile, it was the fourth own goal Tottenham have benefited from this season, also a joint league-high.