ROBERTO Soldadoâ€™s goal that beat Everton was his first in the Premier League since March. It was only his third in open play for Tottenham Hotspur in the league since his high-profile transfer from Valencia in the summer of last year. But to the clubâ€™s supporters, it was a thing of great beauty and something to enhance further his status in their eyes.
Soldado is an unlikely hero, given the paucity of his return in the competition that he was signed to illuminate. But Spurs fans have consistently offered him incredible backing and he repaid them with the moment in first-half injury-time when he took Aaron Lennonâ€™s through-ball and hammered it past the Everton goalkeeper, Tim Howard.
This was not a great overall performance from Soldado. He had missed his challenge on Kevin Mirallas just before the Everton attacker bent home a cracking shot to open the scoring and he fluffed his lines when an opportunity knocked on 37 minutes. But he scored and it turned out to be the winner. When he was substituted late on he departed to a standing ovation. Soldado had continued up front alongside Harry Kane; Emmanuel Adebayor, according to the manager, Mauricio Pochettino, was absent because of illness.
Tottenham showed their character to fight back and record their finest win under Pochettino and he was particularly pleased at breaking the negative cycle at White Hart Lane, where the team have lost four times in the league. This was a display of tempo and aggression, fired by Kane, who played a prominent role in both goals, and the stadium has not seemed so positive for some time.
â€œItâ€™s not only three points; itâ€™s a little bit more,â€ Pochettino said. â€œThe team have sent a different signal to our supporters. I understand why they were angry. Winning away and losing at home is not the right way.â€
Everton had started brightly but they were second best from the moment the excellent Christian Eriksen equalised and Roberto MartÃnez, the manager, was left to lament the failure of Michael Oliver to spot what he felt was a penalty for handball against Federico Fazio in the 90th minute. The Tottenham defender had jumped with Romelu Lukaku and with his hand raised. MartÃnez also complained about a possible foul by Kane on Gareth Barry in the buildup to Soldadoâ€™s goal.
â€œFazio makes himself really big and closes his eyes and heâ€™s in an unusual position when the ball hits him,â€ Martinez said. â€œIt hits him in the arm and it should have been a penalty. I am disappointed. It should have been spotted.â€
Pochettino took a different view â€“ â€œIt was not a penalty,â€ he said â€“ and he preferred to talk up what was a third come-from-behind league win in four matches for his team. The passion in his goal celebrations told its own story.
The victory also improved Tottenhamâ€™s record after Thursday night Europa League games â€“ they now have three wins to go with their four defeats. Everton, who are also in the competition, have won one, drawn one and lost three. Tottenham had beaten Partizan Belgrade here on Thursday night; Everton won at Wolfsburg.
It was an entertaining game and Everton ought to have led when Ross Barkleyâ€™s pass ricocheted and then broke off a Tottenham defender for Lukaku. From close range he was denied by Hugo Lloris. Everton, though, took charge after Ryan Mason had headed away from Leighton Bainesâ€™ free-kick and Mirallas won the ball back, having made light of Soldadoâ€™s weak challenge. He dropped his shoulder and jinked inside before unfurling a glorious right-footer from 20 yards that arced into the far, top corner.
Tottenham looked nervy and when the stand-in right-back, Vlad Chiriches, who would later go off with cramp, nearly sold Lloris short with a back-pass, there was that hum of grumbling that has been heard so often here this season. Yet Pochettinoâ€™s team turned it around, thanks in no small measure to the fearless running of Kane.
The young striker was central to the equaliser, slicing through the Everton defence and shooting low at goal. Howard parried and Eriksen reacted quickest to drift the ball back into the far corner.
Eriksen shot narrowly wide and Soldadoâ€™s touch let him down when he was well placed following Muhamed Besicâ€™s loose back header before Kane provided another spark. He won the ball from Barry to allow Lennon to tear at the Everton defence. The slide-rule pass was perfectly weighted for Soldado, who took one touch to set himself and another to score.
Everton looked flat. Seamus Coleman was denied by Lloris at close quarters from Barkleyâ€™s pass on 71 minutes and their luck was out when Fazio got the benefit of the doubt from Oliver at the very end.
Man of the match Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur). – The Guardian