(Lennon – 35, Assou-Ekotto – 63)
Aaron Lennon and Benoit Assou-Ekotto struck either side of half-time as Tottenham cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over an out-of-form Everton and move level on points with Manchester United.
The Lilywhites took the initiative just after the half-hour after Lennon skipped past Leighton Baines in the Everton box before slotting past Tim Howard at his near-post.
However, the goal of the game came with a little under half-an-hour to go after Assou-Ekotto smashed home past the Toffees shot-stopper from a full 35-yards.
Harry Redknapp was forced into three changes from the side that started the 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, Michael Dawson making his first Premier League in over four months coming in for the injured William Gallas, Sandro was replaced by Jake Livermore after the Brazilian picked up a calf-strain in the same game while Lennon returned to the starting XI at the expense of Jermain Defoe.
Yet it was the away side that managed to grind out the first clear-cut opportunity after Younes Kaboul failed to clear on-loan Landon Donavan’s cross but Louis Saha managed to drag his effort wide of Brad Friedel’s goal.
The effort proved to spur the home side into life as Redknapp’s side dominated the first-half proceedings from then on.
Emmanuel Adebayor, Rafael Van der Vaart and Luka Modric all shot wide before Spurs got their first real opportunity to take the lead. Van der Vaart released the marauding Gareth Bale but Adebayor failed to get his shot away after the Welshman picked out his team-mate unmarked in the box.
Adebayor and Van der Vaart both came close but it took until the 35th minute for the deadlock to be broken.
Assou-Ekotto found Lennon on the right after a delightful 50-yard cross-field ball. The England winger dribbled into the 18-year box, turning Baines and Sylvain Distin before sweeping his effort past Howard in the Everton net.
It remained 1-0 until the second half and again Spurs started brightly and Howard was on-hand to deny a deflected Bale effort.
Lennon wasn’t able to direct Assou-Ekotto’s cross goal-bound while at the other end, Saha angled just wide from Baines low cross.
However, on the 63rd minute, the Cameroonian left-back struck home with a 35-yard thunderbolt after being picked out by Van der Vaart.
Bale fired just over while Baines did excellently to block Adebayor’s effort and Spurs pushed for the third.
Lennon and Adebayor combined brilliantly, the Togolese front-man saw another effort blocked while Van der Vaart saw the follow-up tipped over.
Kyle Walker had a shot deflected wide in the dying embers of the encounter in what proved to be a routine win for the North London giants who are now nine points clear of fifth placed Arsenal and just three points behind first-placed Manchester City.
What Redknapp had to say
“We are up there, and in the Champions League mix and we are looking to do that, who knows,” Redknapp told Sky Sports.
“Nothing is impossible and you have to keep believing, apart from that I enjoy watching us play, if you can’t enjoy watching us play you shouldn’t watch football.
“It was a great win for us, it is always difficult to beat Everton – you never get an easy game with them, and David Moyes had a very attacking looking team out tonight. They started the game well but we got on top and played well, it was a good performance.”
Man of the match
Credit where credit is due, Jake Livermore was absolutely sensational in the middle of the park alongside Luka Modric. With Scott Parker and Sandro both ruled out, the versatile midfield man was called-upon to do a similar job to the aforementioned duo. And while doing his role to the highest standard, his passing on the night was of equal stature, completing 76 out of 77 attempted passes, a success rate of a fantastic 99%.
Moment of the match
It is hard to look beyond Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s stunning strike midway through the first-half. Seemingly limited on options after being picked out by Rafael Van der Vaart, the Cameroon international smashed home from 35-yards to score only his second goal for the club. Ironically, his first goal came against Merseyside rivals Liverpool back in 2008.