A beautiful May sun shone down on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the final Premier league match of the 2018-18 season. Spurs hosted Everton at their new home knowing that they needed any sort of a result — or a loss but not dropping an 8 goal differential advantage — to finish top four and clinch participation in their fourth straight Champions League campaign.
Spurs got goals from Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen, but conceded twice in two minutes in the second half and drew Everton at home 2-2. Everton scored off of a strike from Theo Walcott and a scrummed goal from Cenk Tosun.
Mauricio Pochettino set up the match lineup knowing that some players were injured or needed rest, but also understanding that it would not do for Spurs to be too lackadaisical, since top four has not been mathematically secured. Still, Spurs made five changes from the lineup that took the pitch against Ajax — Kyle Walker-Peters got the start at right back, and with Son Heung-Min suspended, Fernando Llorente started at striker. Erik Lamela got his first start in forever as an attacking midfielder, while Eric Dier and Ben Davies both slotted into the defensive back line. Lucas Moura, the hero of the Ajax match, also started along with Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli.
Meanwhile, Everton started the match without Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who missed out due to injury.
It did not take long for Spurs to make a positive impact in this match. An Erik Lamela corner kick was placed beautifully in the center of the box and Eric Dier was in the right place to calmly kick the ball past Jordan Pickford to put Spurs ahead 1-0. Not even three minutes had elapsed and Spurs already had a lead.
Everton weren’t sitting back either and had some chances to equalize. Michael Keane had a free header on goal off of a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick 10 minutes into the match, but the ball went straight at Hugo Lloris, who collected easily. Just after, Lucas Moura pushed the ball quickly forward and some nice interplay between Moussa Sissoko and Erik Lamela led to a shot for Sissoko from an acute angle that was well saved by Pickford. Dele Alli also put a shot just over the bar, all inside the first 15 minutes.
Some nice passing in Spurs’ half nearly got Everton the equalizer at 18 minutes, but former Arsenal man Theo Walcott had to stretch for a cross into the box and could only poke the ball at Hugo.
The first half didn’t feature a dominant performance by either team. It wasn’t a boring kickabout, but neither did it have the frantic pace you’d expect if this match meant a great deal to either side. Everton continued to push forward when possible, but Spurs’ defense was up to the challenge, with Alderweireld and Dier cutting out nearly every dangerous opportunity. But Everton did have chances — Hugo Lloris was forced low to his right corner to push away a shot from Bernard in the 30th minute and Sigurdsson tried his luck from outside the box at 38’.
Everton had one final chance to score in the first half, but a free kick by Sigurdsson from a dangerous position caromed off the wall, and Spurs took a one goal lead into the break.
Mauricio Pochettino made a rare halftime substitution, with Victor Wanyama coming in for Dele Alli — an odd substitution considering how heavily Wanyama was limping after the win in Amsterdam. No changes for Everton.
Kyle Walker-Peters made things interesting right after the whistle, firing a fizzing cross in from the right flank that was just a step in front of a rushing Llorente.
The match was briefly interrupted four minutes in by a pitch invader who rushed the field and was subsequently tackled by stewards and ejected from the grounds.
With Spurs up a goal and Arsenal mired in a scoreless draw at Burnley, Tottenham started to take their foot off the gas a bit. Everton earned a couple of free kicks in the early part of the match and had the bulk of possession while Spurs took their time trying to play out of the back and not make any silly mistakes.
Everton had the bulk of the chances in the second half. Bernard had a good chance in the 59th minute after he got a step on Walker-Peters from a pass from Sigurdsson, but his shot went wide of the left post.
Everton made a double substitution in the 65th minute, bringing on Andre Gomes for Idrissa Gana and Ademola Lookman for Bernard.
Spurs started to push forward a bit in the back part of the half, getting balls into the box on several occasions, but weren’t able to fire any past Pickford to double their lead.
The match was looking like a dull affair, but it got very exciting in a hurry!
Everton found a nice equalizer in the 69th minute from none other than Theo Walcott, who poked a low ball past a diving Lloris that tucked just inside the far post. It leveled the scoreline and won the award for Most Banterful Goal at Spurs’ new stadium. And Everton went ahead just two minutes later off of a corner kick. Hugo made a nice save off of a Keane header, but Cenk Tosun bundled the ball over the line after a scrum inside the mouth of the goal. Just like that, Everton took the lead.
It looked a bit dire, but Christian Eriksen pulled Spurs level immediately afterwards Lamela won a free kick just outside the box, Eriksen took his time, and fired a lovely ball over the wall and past Pickford. Just like that, the score was 2-2, with three goal scored in six minutes.
Spurs made their last two subs in the 76th minute with Vincent Janssen making what is likely his last appearance in a Tottenham shirt, coming in for Fernando Llorente. Oliver Skipp also came on for Erik Lamela.
Eriksen tried his luck again from the free kick spot in the 79th minute but his chipped ball into the box was headed out for a corner by Andre Gomes. Cenk Tosun went close again for Everton three minutes later, but his header was straight at Hugo Lloris.
That was pretty much the extent of the action for the rest of the match. The whistle blew with Spurs earning just their second draw all season and the final score 2-2.
- Happy Anti-St. Totteringham’s Day, everyone! Arsenal beat Burnley, but Spurs will still finish a point ahead of them.
- This match was fun, then it got super dull, then it got really, really stupid. There were times where I wished I was watching one of the other games on today, but hey.
- This is a match that kind of defies evaluation because of all the rotation and the fact that Spurs really weren’t trying too hard to turn the screws. Everton seemed to want it more, Spurs seemed more interested in not losing plus not getting injured.
- The draw, combined with Chelsea drawing Leicester, means that Spurs screwed up a chance for third place, which is annoying, but whatever. Fourth, third, it’s just gravy — Spurs are in the Champions League.
- This result means Spurs earned 10 points from their final 36 — not great! But as we said earlier, the final table result is the body of the entire season, and Spurs had periods this year where they were very, very good. Don’t judge this injury-depleted squad running on fumes on the way they ended.
- City’s result at Brighton means, of course, that they win their second consecutive Premier League title, and also means we can all have a good laugh at Liverpool.