Byline: David Smith
EVERTON 2 TOTTENHAM 2 HARRY REDKNAPP refused to condemn leading scorer Jermain Defoe for missing an injury-time penalty that would have earned Tottenham an important victory and taken them above Arsenal into third place.
Redknapp stood by his man even though Spurs threw away a two-goal lead and the loss of two points may have a long-term effect on their Champions League aspirations.
Ominously, England striker Defoe struck weakly against the legs of United States goalkeeper Tim Howard -- the two could face each other in the opening group game of the World Cup next summer -- to squander the best of several chances Spurs wasted.
Yet manager Redknapp said: "Nobody misses penalties on purpose. It was one of those things. You'd fancy the little man to score, the form he's in. But Frank Lampard also missed a penalty on Saturday and when does he ever miss?" If Redknapp was as soft on his players immediately after the final whistle as he was trying to excuse their performance in the post-match press conference, then they got away lightly. For much of the game Spurs looked like a side capable of consolidating a place in the top three, never mind the top four. But they had to settle for a draw after deservedly going ahead through Defoe -- sharper when he had to act instinctively than when given time to think about his duties as substitute penalty taker for the non-starting Robbie Keane -- and skipper Michael Dawson.
Everton's introduction on the hour of Louis Saha and Yakubu transformed a poor home side into a dangerous one, and it was Saha and Tim Cahill who clawed back a point.
"It's disappointing when it happens to you, but it happens," Redknapp said. "Arsenal were 2-0 up at West Ham earlier in the season, cruising, and ended up drawing 2-2. "At 2-0, you really couldn't see any danger. I thought we were controlling the game and making good opportunities to go 3-0 up. But Everton started to cause more problems when they brought the two strikers on. Suddenly they were a threat up front."
If Redknapp kept his emotions in check in front of the media, they boiled over afterwards as he walked down a flight of stairs back to the Goodison Park dressing rooms.
A group of Everton fans teased him with claims -- repeating comments of manager David Moyes -- that Wilson Palacios had not deserved a penalty when Tony Hibbert body-checked the Honduran as he chased Peter Crouch's headed pass. …