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I have to be happy – New Spurs boss Antonio Conte satisfied despite stalemate

Conte saw his team held by Everton at Goodison Park.

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Tottenham manager Antonio Conte saw his side held by Everton (Martin Rickett/PA).

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte saw his side held by Everton (Martin Rickett/PA).

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte saw his side held by Everton (Martin Rickett/PA).

New Tottenham manager Antonio Conte declared himself happy with their goalless draw at Everton despite a frustrating afternoon at Goodison Park.

The home side had the better of the game, but Giovani Lo Celso perhaps came closest to scoring with a shot against a post two minutes from time.

However, although Spurs extended their Premier League run without an effort on target to three hours and 47 minutes, their Italian manager was satisfied to start with a point, having taken charge for the first time in the Europa League in midweek.

“Honestly, I have to be happy for different reasons,” he said.

“The first is that Goodison Park is not an easy place to come to play, especially after an intensive week emotionally for my players after they played the game on Thursday.

“I have to be happy because I started to see some tactical situations. For sure we can improve and we have a lot of space for improvement tactically, physically but also mentality.

“Today I saw the heart of my players, the passion, the will to fight, the will to sacrifice, to understand this was a very difficult moment for us and to see this makes me more confident for the future.”

Things could have been different had referee Chris Kavanagh not overturned his second-half decision to award a penalty for a Hugo Lloris foul on Richarlison, having viewed the pitchside monitor.

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Everton manager Rafael Benitez felt his side’s penalty should have stood (Martin Rickett/PA).

Everton manager Rafael Benitez felt his side’s penalty should have stood (Martin Rickett/PA).

Everton manager Rafael Benitez felt his side’s penalty should have stood (Martin Rickett/PA).

Conte and opposite number Rafael Benitez were at odds over whether that was the correct course of action.

“My view is very simple – if VAR calls you and you go and watch you see then it is difficult to make a mistake,” said Conte.

“I have seen and Lloris has touched the ball before. To make a mistake after watching VAR is impossible and I am sure in this situation he took the right decision for him.”

Benitez, however, disagreed.

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“It is a foul (if it happens) in the middle of the pitch, it doesn’t matter if he touched the ball or not as Richarlison touched the ball after the keeper touched him,” he said.

“In the middle of the pitch it is a foul so in the box it has to be foul.”

VAR also intervened in the 90th-minute sending off of Mason Holgate eight minutes after he had come on, but Benitez had no argument with that.

“He cleared the ball and after he had the studs high, so it could be a red card and I couldn’t complain about that,” added the Spaniard, who was happy to see his side end a three-match losing run.

“I said so many times the commitment is there. We can make mistakes, concede goals and miss chances, but in terms of the commitment we have seen the team, especially at home, have that.

“We lost two games because we made mistakes – from the first minute today until the last minute every player was giving everything and the fans were behind them.

“The connection between fans and players was great and that was why we could keep the tempo high.”

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