Everton and Tottenham failed to put pressure on those passing them in the race for the top four as they played a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.
Entering the game seventh and eighth respectively, a victory would have seen the home side move four points from fourth place, while Spurs could have passed Liverpool on goal difference with a win.
However, although both keep a lead at some point in the game, neither side could hold out and had to settle for a point each.
The game turned out to be a slow burner, with minimal quality moments in the opening trades.
In fact, Richarlison’s effort after 24 minutes was the first highlight, but the Brazilian was turned down by Hugo Lloris.
Out of nowhere however, Spurs opened the scoring in the 26th minute thanks to Harry Kane’s 20th league goal of the season.
After Michael Keane misjudged Tanguy Ndombele’s fly from cross and was able to only slide the ball into the path of the Spurs forward, Kane took just two touches to control and finish in the bottom corner. law.
The hosts were given the opportunity to respond almost instantly when they received a penalty after James Rodriguez was regrouped by Sergio Reguilon shooting.
Replays appeared to show the Colombian received minimal contact and in fact kicked the ground – knocking him down – but the decision stood and Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up to take the kick and converted with confidence to tie scores.
The equalizer boosted Everton, who had the best the rest of the half.
Rodriguez almost pushed them forward, but was refused by a clever reaction stop from Lloris, before Ben Godfrey managed to guide his head to the target after encountering a dangerous free kick at the far post.
Despite their odds, the Toffees couldn’t find a second and they stayed 1-1 before the break.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men threatened to continue to press immediately after the restart as they sought to push Tottenham away.
This allowed Richarlison to come close when he jumped the highest to meet a wedge, but his head was too high to cause problems.
Spurs were able to take that pressure off and seemed to gain confidence, almost regaining the lead when Toby Alderweireld came in with a thumbs-kick in a corner but his header was on the wrong side of the post.
But Everton went ahead in the 61st minute when Sigurdsson doubled his night total by finishing a smooth move.
Seamus Coleman broke into the right flank and played a brace with Richarlison before cutting the ball perfectly for Sigurdsson, who guided the ball to the other side of the goal with a one-touch finish.
Just as Spurs had quickly relinquished their lead in the first half, another defensive error saw Everton do the same in the second.
It was Keane and Holgate involved again, with the first breakout attempt hitting Holgate and falling to a grateful Kane who mercilessly sent to the top corner.
This set up an intriguing final 20 minutes with both teams needing a win with a European qualification in mind. And as the game got more open, there was a chance for both of them to win it.
Kane came closest for Spurs, heading just over the crossbar as he narrowly missed a treble goal in the 72nd minute.
But Everton could and probably should have delivered the decisive blow in the 85th when Joshua King was played in the box only for the attacker to shoot directly at Lloris. They were given a second cherry bite as the ball fell to Richarlison with the “keeper still on the ground, but he lost his temper and shot over as luck was ruined.”
The last chance went to Godfrey but he couldn’t guide his volley attempt to the target, but Spurs’ main concern was an alleged ankle injury for Kane which forced him to leave in the last minute, which could put his place in the final of the League Cup next week in doubt.
The split points mean there was no move on the table, leaving West Ham, Chelsea and Liverpool with a chance to pull back slightly when they play in the coming days.