Antonio Conte could not get his Tottenham Hotspur reign off to a winning start as his side drew 0-0 away to Rafa Benitez’s Everton.
Tottenham, 10-man Everton share spoils on Conte's return to the EPL
Conte, Benitez settle for one point apiece in an entertaining match at the Goodison Park
It was obvious that the Italian’s instruction to his players was to not concede and they stuck to the brief, holding off an Everton side without the firepower of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Everton picked up their first point in four Premier League matches but remain in the lower half of the table after being reduced to ten men in the latter part of the game due to Mason Holgate’s red card.
Both teams go into the international break with more work to do if they are to challenge for a place in Europe this season.
Conte’s men started the first half under the new manager with renewed energy, playing to impress the manager.
The Lilywhites were fast on the ball, passing from side to side as they sought to take the initiative from the start of the game.
The first notable action of the half was Sergio Reguilon’s yellow card in the 12th minute as the Spanish full-back sought to cover after being involved on both ends o the pitch in the opening minutes.
As both teams played end-to-end football, chances were hard to come by with the Toffees largely keeping Conte’s men at bay and outside their penalty area.
Lucas Moura took the initiative in the 18th minute, pulling the trigger on a shot around the box but was blocked by the legs of Micheal Keane.
Everton were trying to avoid slumping to a fourth Premier League defeat in a row, sitting deep as Conte’s men strung up good passes trying to beak down Ancelotti’s defense.
Tottenham’s No 9, Harry Kane, playing a little deeper and on the right found Emerson Royale with a searching pass and the former Barcelona defender sent a cross to Reguilon, who headed over the bar in the 22nd minute.
Everton’s Demarai Gray also had a shot at Tottenham’s goal in the 24th minute but former Atalanta defender, Christian Romero was alert to make the block.
Both Everton and Tottenham played the majority of the first half in the middle of the pitch, with Conte’s side snuffing out attacks by the Toffees before it gets to their goal. England international, Micheal Keane was also impressive for Everton, putting a couple of crucial blocks to stem the tide of Tottenham’s attacks,
As the half wore on, Everton gained more momentum as a diagonal cross from Allan into the Tottenham box was headed wide by Brazilian forward, Richalison in the 33rd minute. Demarai Gray fizzled a shot at goal in the 35th minute but the effort was blocked off by Romero.
Gray was in the thick of the action again in the 38th minute, wiggling through the Tottenham defence but was stopped on his tracks by Oliver Skipp. Referee, Chris Kavanaugh waved off a half-hearted penalty appeal from Gray.
After soaking up pressure from the Everton side, Tottenham had the best chance of the afternoon as the lively Heung Min Son sent a pass to Harry Kane on the right hand of the pitch. The England captain’s searching cross found Reguilon at the far post but the former Real Madrid man could only blaze over the bar with his sliding effort.
The teams emerged unchanged after halftime with Rafa Benitez’s team increasing their attacking tempo as they sought to stamp their authority on home ground.
Anthony Gordon had the first chance of the second half, slashing a first-time volley over the bar from a Gray cross in the 50th minute.
Everton’s Ben Godfrey was called into action in the 55th minute as he headed away Reguilon’s shot. Another Reguilon cross was beat away by Lucas Digne in the 60th minute while Ben Davies long-range effort in the 61st minute could not stop his four-year wait for a goal.
Hugo Lloris raced off his line in the 63rd minute to stop Everton’s Richarlison from running through on goal but felled the Brazilian forward in the process. Referee Chris Kavanaugh initially awarded a penalty that the official was advised by VAR John Moss to use the pitch-side monitor. After extensive checks, Kavanaugh rescinded his penalty decision, adjudging that Lloris had made contact with the ball before felling Richarlison.
Richarlison and Romero were both yellow-carded in the 69th minute after being involved in an altercation in the Tottenham penalty box.
Everton continued to ramp up the pressure on Conte’s side as they sought the winner in a keenly-contested match. Ben Davies shot straight at Hugo Lloris while Gray could not divert a Digne pass across the six-yard box into the net as the match wore on.
Substitute, Giovanni Lo Celso came close to winning it for Tottenham when his 88th minute struck the upright, beating Jordan Pickford for the first time on the afternoon.
There was more drama in the pulsating match when Mason Hogate was sent off in the 92nd minute for a dangerous tackle on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
In the end, Lilywhites and the Toffees share the spoils in a hugely-entertaining match to mark Antonio Conte’s return to the English Premier League