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Spurs’ failure to protect lead leaves Micky van de Ven feeling ‘mad’

Micky van de Ven (left to right), Richarlison and Bryan Gil - ‘Mad’ Micky van de Ven says Tottenham killing their hopes with late failings
Micky van de Ven (left to right), Richarlison and Bryan Gil - ‘Mad’ Micky van de Ven says Tottenham killing their hopes with late failings

Micky van de Ven was “mad” after Tottenham once again threw away points in injury time – and said it is killing their bid to challenge at the top.

The Dutch defender’s pride at another impressive personal performance was marred by Ange Postecoglou’s team failing to protect their 2-1 lead.

They sat back, invited Everton pressure and conceded an unnecessary free-kick – substitute Dejan Kulusevski was the culprit – that led to Jarrad Branthwaite’s 94th-minute equaliser. Conceding late goals is proving a familiar and costly story for Tottenham this season – this was the eighth time they have conceded in the 90th minute or later.

“I was just mad when I got back to the dressing room,” said Van de Ven. “I didn’t talk. It really hurts. Everyone was just disappointed. We could have put pressure on the top. To concede in the 94th minute is killing.

“I thought we played quite well second half – in the first half we struggled a bit – but in second half we have to kill the game.

“We needed to play in their half of the pitch and push them back but at the end we let them attack and they won some free kicks and that is where they are strong.

“We spoke about it at half-time, don’t give them the opportunity to win these free-kicks, and in the second half I thought we dealt with it really well – until the end.”

It was no surprise that both Everton’s goals came from set-pieces with goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario again looking vulnerable from the start when dealing with the ball with bodies around him.

He was at fault for Manchester City’s FA Cup winner from a corner in the previous game and Everton clearly targeted a perceived weakness.

Vicario protested in vain he had been impeded by Jack Harrison as he tried to collect Dwight McNeil’s corner in the 29th minute – Harrison then getting the last touch when James Tarkowski headed the ball back from beyond the far post.

And Vicario was not strong enough when Branthwaite bundled home James Garner’s added time free-kick which flicked off the head of Cristian Romero.

The positive for Tottenham was that Richarlison continued his goal-scoring run with two fine first half finishes against his former club to take his tally to nine in his last eight Premier League games at a time when the talismanic Son Heung-min is away at the Asia Cup.

The Brazilian’s first after only four minutes was a close range left foot volley from Destiny Udogie’s cut back and the second was a curling effort from the edge of the area four minutes before the break after being set up by James Maddison.

Tottenham had chances when in control in the early part of the second half with Jordan Pickford making fine saves from Maddison and Richarlison.

There is a sense of “us against the world” at Goodison Park after their 10 point deduction. Everton fans held up yellow cards saying “you don’t know what you’re doing” in their latest protest to the Premier League.

Sean Dyche has used the sense of grievance to instil a collective fighting spirit but has also made his team a formidable threat from set-pieces – 13 of their goals this season have now come from that route and only Arsenal have a better record.

And Dyche did not fool anyone when he said afterwards they did not specifically target Vicario.

“No, not necessarily,” he said. “There is no story there. We want to be competitive on set-pieces all over the pitch. Delivery is massively important quite obviously and then the intent and desire to go and score a goal. It is a large part of what we keep drumming into the players. We do look a threat – everyone knows it.”

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