LONDON // A wonderful performance from Luka Modric inspired Tottenham to regain their place in the top four with a battling victory over in-form Everton. The Croatian playmaker was at the hub of everything that Spurs created, oozing quality in a high-octane encounter in north London. He capped a sparkling performance with a wonderfully-taken goal in the 28th minute to add to Roman Pavlyuchenko's opener.
Everton dragged themselves back into the game through striker Yakubu and Harry Redknapp's side had to cling on in the frantic final minutes to give their Champions League hopes a massive boost. "The most important thing is the way we played and I really enjoy being in charge of a team that plays as well as we did," the Spurs manager explained. "The pressure is not on us and Aston Villa to finish in the top four - people expect it from Manchester City and Liverpool. Modric is back to his best and his goal was a fantastic finish from a great player who could perform in any team in the world."
David Moyes's side have been in fine form recently - underlined by victories over Manchester United and Chelsea - but fell to just their second defeat from their last 13 league outings. They looked lethargic early on after their Uefa Cup exit on Thursday night, but fought back bravely, taking advantage of the injury that forced Tom Huddlestone, the Tottenham midfielder, off the pitch just after the restart.
"We didn't turn up for the first-half but I think a draw would have been a fair result after our second-half performance," Moyes said. Tottenham took the lead in the 11th minute with their first real opportunity of the match. Jermain Defoe fired the ball across goal from the right for Pavlyuchenko to slide in for his fifth goal in seven days. After Yakubu missed a chance to level for the visitors, Modric doubled the lead with a moment of pure class.
After a passing move with his compatriots Niko Kranjcar and Vedran Corluka, Modric defied the angles to clip a beautiful shot in off the underside of the crossbar from just inside the area. Moyes responded by bringing on Phil Jagielka for Leon Osman at half-time and his team came out with a new purpose after the break. And on 54 minutes Yakubu scrambled the visitors back into the game. The home crowd clearly sensed panic in their team and the visitors looked increasingly likely to take a point back to Goodison Park as they launched attack after attack.
And would they done had Landon Donovan not missed an open goal from two yards out after Jack Rodwell's cross was deflected into the American's path. "I though it was going in. It was a big miss for us," said Moyes. firstname.lastname@example.org