LONDON, England, April 7 – Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a late equaliser for Tottenham Hotspur in a 2-2 draw against Everton on Sunday as both sides failed to make ground in the battle for Champions League qualification.
The stalemate meant Spurs missed out on the chance to consolidate their grip on third place in the Premier League, with fourth-place Arsenal having narrowed the gap this weekend after their victory at West Bromwich Albion.
Everton, who lie sixth, will rue their inability to hold onto their lead and put further pressure on the sides above them in their bid to break into the top four.
Emmanuel Adebayor put Spurs ahead after 34 seconds, but Phil Jagielka headed home from a corner 14 minutes later.
Kevin Mirallas put the Toffees ahead with a fine solo effort after the interval, only for Sigurdsson to plunder an 86th-minute leveller.
The draw brought relief for Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas, but both sides will regard this as an opportunity missed.
Spurs started without both Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon in a Premier League game for the first time since November 2009, after they were injured against Basel on Thursday, while Jermain Defoe and William Gallas were also sidelined.
Meanwhile, Everton were missing Marouane Fellaini and ex-Spurs man Steven Pienaar due to suspension, but Mirallas was fit to start after shaking off a groin injury.
There were fears before the match that Spurs’ absentees would result in a lack of width and limit their attacking threat, but the hosts took the lead in the first minute.
Jan Vertonghen, who won the Premier League Player of the Month award for March, had been deployed at left-back and he got forward to deliver a superb cross, with Adebayor sliding in to finish.
It was a nightmare start for Everton, but they were gifted a sight of goal in the 11th minute as Michael Dawson gave the ball to Leon Osman, who sent a curling snapshot wide from 20 yards.
That was all the encouragement the Toffees needed and they levelled four minutes later.
Dawson cut out Ross Barkley’s dangerous low cross, but the visitors took full advantage of the ensuing corner as Jagielka met Leighton Baines’ delivery and headed home.
Spurs regrouped, with Clint Dempsey and the lively Lewis Holtby trying their luck from distance, while Kyle Walker ran from inside his own half but sliced wide of the near post.
Tottenham were on top and Everton survived a penalty appeal when Dempsey’s cross hit Darron Gibson, although the ball appeared to strike his shoulder rather than his arm.
Gibson went close in the 50th minute, sending a curling effort wide of the far post, and visiting manager David Moyes then made an attacking change,swapping Barkley for Nikica Jelavic.
Everton took the lead seconds later as Mirallas beat his Belgian countryman Vertonghen to the ball on the right before twisting and turning to the edge of the box and firing low into the bottom-left corner.
Spurs nearly hit back with an immediate equaliser through Mousa Dembele, but Tim Howard got enough on the ball to deflect it up onto the crossbar.
The American goalkeeper then had to fend away Walker’s 30-yard thunderbolt and Adebayor’s curling effort, while Sigurdsson fired narrowly wide from 20 yards.
At the other end, Victor Anichebe saw a low effort deflected wide and then fired over the bar after an Everton break, but Spurs did all the pressing in the closing stages.
They got their reward three minutes from time as Walker got down the right and crossed, Adebayor curled the ball against the post, and Sigurdsson pounced to level the scores.
There was nearly another late twist as Anichebe went through one on one against Hugo Lloris, but Spurs’ goalkeeper made a crucial save, while Jelavic then fired straight at the Frenchman in injury time.