Paulinho returned from injury to rescue a point for a labored Tottenham side at the KC Stadium on Saturday afternoon, dropping points in the race for the top four as the club came from behind to draw 1-1 against Hull City.
The Tigers took the lead after Steve Harper's deep goal kick was badly dealt with by Jan Vertonghen and allowed Shane Long, linking with fellow January signing Nikica Jelavic, to race in behind the Spurs defense and fire the ball past Hugo Lloris.
The away side, disjointed in the first half, showed more intent in the second period and leveled the scores through Paulinho. The Brazilian, having been sidelined since December, trapped Danny Rose's shot before powering a thunderous effort past Harper.
Neither Hull manager Steve Bruce nor Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood can claim with much justification that their side deserved to win, with Hull shading the first half before Spurs worked their way back into it after the break.
Hull's gamble in the January transfer window, a 14 million pound outlay on the hardly prolific strike duo of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long began to pay dividends with an opener which was fashioned thanks to Steve Harper's route one approach, Jelavic's awareness and Long's ice-cool nerves.
Spurs were stunned into action and were undone by the profligacy of Aaron Lennon and, primarily, Roberto Soldado who cut a forlorn figure throughout at the apex of the Tottenham attack.
But Sherwood, who has masterminded a commendable recovery at White Hart Lane, must be credited for his words at halftime which seemed to inspire the languid Champions League chasers into action as Paulinho grabbed an equalizer.
Both sides sought a winner, with Jelavic testing Lloris several times and even striking the post, though neither team could claim all three points.
Jake Livermore was ineligible to play for Hull against his parent club, while Vertonghen made his first appearance in almost two months after recovering from an ankle injury.
After a tame opening, the game exploded into life as Jelavic lifted a cross from former Tottenham midfielder Tom Huddlestone onto the roof of the net with a clever first-time shot.
Emmanuel Adebayor then drew an excellent save from Harper – standing in for the suspended Allan McGregor – with his volleyed finish tipped over the bar, before Hull took the lead 60 seconds later.
Jelavic's flick-on fell to Long in space and the Republic of Ireland striker burst between Tottenham defenders Michael Dawson and Vertonghen before producing a clever left-foot finish to delight the home crowd.
Tottenham had two penalty appeals turned down as the club looked for a response but Hull was comfortable during the first half.
Tim Sherwood's men were much-improved after the break, though, and Christian Eriksen fired over before Roberto Soldado forced a good save from Harper from a tight angle after Paulinho's shot deflected fortuitously to him.
Spurs got the equalizer just after the hour mark, although it came with a large slice of luck, as a short free kick led to Rose thrashing an attempt at goal from 45 yards.
The shot was flying wide, but Paulinho's excellent first touch created enough space for him to turn and unleash a strike on goal – an effort that fizzed past Harper and into the back of the net.
Jelavic hit the post as Hull searched for a quick response, with his stabbed effort from a Long cross from an acute angle almost going in, while the Croatian striker also had an effort that was creeping towards goal cleared by Dawson after Tottenham goalkeeper Lloris was beaten after coming off his line.
Despite both sides pushing for a winner, and Soldado once again claiming he was felled inside the box late on, the two sides shared the spoils in a largely even contest.