Darren Bent’s last-gasp equaliser left Manchester United shattered after the champions thought they had saved themselves from another desperate day.
Trailing to Steve Sidwell’s first-half opener, United’s search for redemption lasted until the 79th minute before Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick struck within the space of 120 seconds to turn the match on its head.
Carrick’s goal brought Wayne Rooney to his knees in celebration and had manager David Moyes punching the air with relief.
But the celebrations were cut short in the fourth minute of stoppage time as David de Gea turned away Kieran Richardson’s shot, but sent the ball straight into the path of substitute Bent who nodded into an empty net.
Head coach Tim Sherwood was unhappy to see Tottenham make another slow start but pleased by the way they kicked on to secure a win that left Everton counterpart Roberto Martinez understandably frustrated.
Fourth-placed Liverpool’s emphatic defeat of Arsenal on Saturday increased the importance of the encounter at White Hart Lane, which looked to only be going one way as the visitors came flying out the blocks.
However, Tottenham somehow managed to ride the first-half storm and took full advantage, sneaking a 1-0 win thanks to Emmanuel Adebayor’s decisive strike.