An own goal by Michael Keane proved the difference as Tottenham Hotspur beat visitors Everton 1-0 in a dour clash on Monday to move up to eighth in the standings and hand manager Jose Mourinho a 200th Premier League win.
Defeat would have dropped Spurs below the visitors into the bottom half of the table but they won fairly comfortably to stretch their unbeaten league run versus Everton to 15 games.
Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso thought he had scored his first Premier League goal for Tottenham in the 23rd minute but his shot on the turn took a decisive deflection off Keane to leave keeper Jordan Pickford with no chance.
Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris was hardly tested although he was involved in the night’s flashpoint, having a furious row with team mate Son Heung-min as the players walked off at halftime.
Tottenham have 48 points from 33 games, one behind Arsenal and nine adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea. Everton’s first defeat since the resumption of the season left them 11th.
Mourinho questioned his side’s desire after a lacklustre 3-1 defeat by Sheffield United last week and there was nothing wrong with their application on Monday, even if it was hardly a performance to set the pulse racing.
What he could not have envisaged, however, was the sight of Lloris and Son being held apart by team mates, shortly after Everton’s Richarlison had gone close to an equaliser for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Lloris was clearly angry at Son not tracking back in the build-up for the Richarlison chance.
All was well at the end though as they hugged.
“What happened between me and Sonny is part of football sometimes. There’s no problem. At the end of the game you could see we were more than happy,” the Frenchman said.
It at least provided a talking point in a game that for long periods felt like a training ground game.
The night’s only goal rather summed it up. Son played the ball to Kane in a congested area and when his shot rebounded across to Lo Celso the Argentine’s shot on the turn was heading wide before it hit Keane and nestled into the net.
Son was twice denied by Pickford in the second half and curled a shot wide while Lloris made a couple of comfortable saves as a dreary Everton failed to muster much of a response.