Richarlison scored for the third consecutive match to haunt old club Everton and ensure Tottenham would spend Christmas in the Premier League’s top four thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 home win.
It was harsh on Sean Dyche’s visitors, who created the better of the chances in the capital and crucially had a Dominic Calvert-Lewin effort ruled out following a VAR review in the 51st minute which could have changed the complexion of the match.
Everton also hit the crossbar deep into added time through substitute Arnaut Danjuma, whose effort was then cleared by goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario before it could cross the line. Although the offside flag was raised, the goal would have been given on VAR review as Danjuma was marginally onside.
Those missed chances cost the away side and enabled Ange Postecoglou’s team make it three wins in a row after first-half goals by Richarlison and Son Heung-min, with Andre Gomes’ late effort a mere consolation.
Dyche’s team had won their last four league fixtures and started well in north London, with the fit-again Vitalii Mykolenko testing Vicario early on before Cristian Romero slide in to deny Calvert-Lewin.
It had been a sloppy opening period from Postecoglou’s men, but an Everton old boy corrected that in the ninth minute.
A slick team move saw Pape Sarr play in Brennan Johnson down the right and his cross was perfect for Richarlison, who flicked home impressively at the near post before declining to properly celebrate against his former team.
Everton responded well to going behind, with Dwight McNeil dragging an effort wide and Calvert-Lewin having a header excellently tipped wide by Vicario before Tottenham punished their profligacy again with 18 minutes played.
A short corner routine did the trick, with Pedro Porro slipping the ball through to Johnson, who was denied by Jordan Pickford, but Son was on hand to scramble home from eight yards.
It was Son’s 11th Premier League goal of the campaign, which bettered his tally from last season, and Everton’s problems increased when Idrissa Gueye limped off soon after.
Spurs were in control by this point and almost produced a couple of wonderful team goals but allowed sloppiness to creep in towards the end of the half.
The hosts did not heed their warning, but made it through to half-time with a two-goal advantage after Vicario denied James Garner and Jack Harrison in quick succession.
Everton’s pressure continued, though, and they thought the deficit had been reduced in the 51st minute, only for VAR to intervene.
Substitute Gomes won back possession from Emerson Royal and found Calvert-Lewin, who rifled home, but referee Stuart Attwell was told to review the incident.
Replays on the pitchside monitor showed Gomes had caught Emerson’s left ankle and, while the contact was soft, it was deemed enough to disallow the effort.
Another chance was squandered when Garner dragged wide from Harrison’s delicious outside-of-the-boot pass and Postecoglou had seen enough, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg introduced for Richarlison with 27 minutes left.
It worked initially and Dejan Kulusevski almost put the game to bed in the 75th minute, but Pickford produced a superb finger-tip save.
With eight minutes left the Toffees broke through when Garner’s corner was cleared to Gomes and he lashed home for his first Everton goal in 18 months.
It could have been 2-2 minutes later when ex-Spurs loanee Arnaut Danjuma let fly, but his deflected left-foot strike was brilliantly pushed over by Vicario.
Six minutes were added on and Everton were camped in the hosts’ half, but in the dying moments Danjuma could only volley against the crossbar and watch as the ball agonisingly failed to completely cross the line before Vicario cleared.