LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur should have won their English Premier League opener yesterday at Goodison Park, and they knew it.
Everton were the most obliging of opponents, slightly fortunate to take an early lead and positively delusional if they imagined they would be able to hang on to it for 85 minutes.
In the end they were glad to draw 1-1 and get a point, so small was their share of the game and so limited were their attacking efforts.
Tottenham will be satisfied with the result but acutely aware they could have done better.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman gave debuts to defender Mason Holgate, goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and defensive midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye.
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Everton 1 Tottenham 1
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But the change his side found most difficult to get used to was the absence of Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgian is widely believed to be on his way out of the club anyway but he needed stitches in a foot injury in last week's friendly against Espanyol and was not risked.
That meant the home side played without a recognised striker, with Gerard Deulofeu only a notional front runner.
Everton took the lead inside five minutes but it was significant the goal came from a dead-ball situation - Ross Barkley's free kick finding its way past Hugo Lloris without Phil Jagielka or Ramiro Funes Mori managing to get a touch.
Also significant was the fact Everton spent much of the rest of the first period in their own half.
Without anyone to aim for in attack and no one capable of holding possession in advanced positions, they found the ball constantly coming back towards them.
They defended well, with Gueye in particular winning applause for his neat interventions and efficient distribution, though Tottenham are not the sort of team you want camped on the edge of your penalty area.
The visitors deservedly equalised in the 59th minute when Kyle Walker swung over a cross and Erik Lamela nipped in ahead of Holgate to place a header past Stekelenburg.
In the last 10 minutes, Tottenham's players were virtually queuing up to take shots, but somehow Everton held on.