Conte's Tottenham battles to goalless draw at Everton

Antonio Conte's first Premier League game in charge of Tottenham Hotspur ended in a scrappy 0-0 draw at Everton on Sunday.

Antonio Conte

Tottenham's head coach Antonio Conte and Harry Kane leave the field after the goalless draw with Everton on Sunday.   -  AP

Antonio Conte's first Premier League game in charge of Tottenham Hotspur ended in a scrappy 0-0 draw at Everton on Sunday, as a crucial VAR intervention helped the side scrape a point.

The pivotal moment in a game of few clear chances came just past the hour mark when referee Chris Kavanagh awarded a penalty against Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris for a foul on Richarlison but changed his mind after checking the pitchside monitor.

Tottenham substitute Giovani Lo Celso almost won it for Tottenham late on with a shot against the post, but a draw was just about a fair result for the two out-of-form sides.

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Everton ended a feisty match with 10 men after Mason Holgate was sent off in stoppage time for a wild tackle on Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojgberg.

Conte will take some satisfaction from Tottenham's first league clean sheet for more than two months as the Londoners drew for the first time this season. Tottenham is ninth with 16 points from 11 games with Everton, which ended a run of three successive league defeats, a point worse off.

Former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan manager Conte said in the build-up to the game that the Tottenham job represented a big challenge and that improvements were needed on the pitch.

After watching his side at Goodison Park nothing would have changed those sentiments, although he would have been impressed with his side's attitude which was far more tenacious than in some of the limp displays under Nuno Espirito Santo.

While Tottenham defended ruggedly at times, its attack functioned only sporadically with striker Harry Kane again looking well below his best as the visitors failed to manage a single attempt on target. That said, Tottenham did have chances.

Emerson Royal headed over in the first half while seconds before halftime Sergio Reguilon scooped a half volley over the bar after being picked out by Kane.

Everton was the better side after the break and thought it had been awarded a penalty when Richarlison broke into the area and went flying in a collision with Lloris. Kavanagh immediately pointed to the spot but after consulting with the VAR official via his earpiece, he trotted over to view the incident on a monitor.

The video was inconclusive with Lloris seemingly making minor contact with the ball before taking out the Brazilian striker, but to loud boos Kavanagh cancelled the spot kick.

After that it was a messy affair with tempers fraying and Lo Celso's shot against the post was a rare moment of quality.

After the match, Conte praised his team's fighting qualities and spoke of the many improvements that he needs to make, but also said Sunday's showing was a good starting point, even if Tottenham failed to manage a shot on target.

"Today I have seen the heart of my players, the passion, the will to fight, the will to sacrifice, the will to understand that there was a moment very, very difficult for us and to see this type of reaction makes me more confident for the future," the Italain told reporters.

"Sometimes you can teach to our players the tactical aspects and improve your players' physical aspects but the heart, the passion, the will, the intensity, you have or not.

"My players are showing me these aspects and that we are in a good position and it is a good point to start for me."

Conte said the negative aspect was his side's lack of goal threat.

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Sergio Reguilon wasted the best chance just before halftime while substitute Giovani Lo Celso struck a shot against the post late on but there was little else for the visiting supporters to get excited about.

"I think if I have to see a negative aspect in this game, I think we made many, many mistakes in the final pass because we had chances," Conte said.

"If we made the final pass in the right way, we could have chances to score. Instead, the last pass we made many mistakes."

When asked about the VAR intervention that saved Spurs from conceding a penalty, Conte said "I have seen honestly that Lloris touched the ball before and to make a mistake after you watch VAR for me it is impossible."

"Also, I have seen, he took the right decision for me."

Benitez, whose side ended a run of three successive league defeats, disagreed: "In the middle of the pitch it's a foul, so in the box it has to be a foul."

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