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Report: Everton comeback sees Palace fall to late defeat

Everton
3
Keane 54'
Richarlison 75'
Calvert-Lewin 85'
2
Crystal Palace
Mateta 21'
Ayew 36'

A second-half Everton comeback saw Crystal Palace fall to an agonising late defeat, after the Eagles had raced into a two-goal lead before the break.

Summary

  • Palace create the first chance of the game as Ayew’s powerful header flies wide.
  • Richarlison’s dipping free-kick forces a stunning save from Butland.
  • Mateta opens the scoring, nodding home Eze’s sumptuous dead ball delivery.
  • Ayew makes it two from close range, after Everton cannot deal with Mateta’s strength on the break.
  • HT: Everton 0-2 Palace
  • Keane gives Everton hope shortly after the restart, volleying home from a set-piece.
  • A wonderful flowing Palace move finds Mateta in the box, but Pickford keeps it out.
  • Schlupp wins the ball back on the edge of the box but Pickford saves once again.
  • Richarlison's deflected strike brings the scores level.
  • Calvert-Lewin completes the comeback for the hosts.
  • FT: Everton 3-2 Palace

With the stakes so high for Everton, the nail-biting tension combined with a sense of nauseous excitement to create a combustible atmosphere as the players emerged. Even before the referee’s first whistle, it was reaching boiling point.

Surrounded by four walls of noise, it would be easy to panic early on but Palace calmed the atmosphere in the manner they have become accustomed to under Patrick Vieira. They dominated the possession early on, carefully picking their way through the Everton press and capitalising on avoiding even the slightest of loose touches.

It worked, and the home crowd soon grew agitated, directing their fury first at the referee, then at the Palace attackers, and finally at their own players.

Everton had moments early on, and Richarlison’s dipping free-kick forced a spectacular fingertip save from Jack Butland, but in the main it was Palace in the ascendency.

Soon enough, the pressure paid off. The opener came from a set-piece: Jean-Philippe Mateta applied the finishing touch, but his task was made easier by Eberechi Eze’s sumptuous curling delivery. Questions will rightly be asked about the marking, but it was a cross into an area that is almost impossible to defend.

With Everton trailing, the atmosphere was ratcheted up another notch, as tension was replaced in many cases by pure terror.

But Palace were only growing into the game, and forced a second on the counter-attack. He didn’t provide the finishing touch, but this time the goal was all about Mateta, racing in to outmuscle Seamus Coleman on the halfway line to set the Eagles away.

His cross sparked a defensive mix-up between Pickford and Vitalii Mykolenko, with Wilfried Zaha volleying the loose ball towards goal; Jordan Ayew was in the right place at the right time to scramble home.

Everton emerged after the restart with renewed vigour, the news of Burnley’s opener against Aston Villa having made their situation all the more desperate.

They desperately needed a goal to spark some hope, and that’s exactly what they got.

It came from an unlikely source, with the two centre-backs combining from a set-piece: Mason Holgate knocked the ball down in the penalty area, leaving space for Michael Keane to take a touch and volley into the back of the net.

Goodison Park erupted.

Palace took some time to settle down, but as Everton poured forward gaps began to open up for them to exploit on the break.

Mateta was crucial in holding up the ball and bringing teammates into play. A wonderful, flowing team move saw Eze exchange passes with Ayew on the right hand side before picking out Mateta, but the Frenchman was denied by Pickford from close range.

Everton failed to clear the resultant corner and Schlupp won the ball back on the edge of the area, firing towards the top corner but denied once again by the goalkeeper.

Palace were made to rue these chances, however, as a huge slice of luck drew the hosts level. After Coleman’s cross was only half-cleared Richarlison struck goalwards, his effort taking a huge nick off Conor Gallagher before looping past Jack Butland and in.

Then, with moments remaining, the comeback was complete. It was another ball into the area, met by Dominic Calvert-Lewin to head home and spark pandemonium among the home support.

There was plenty of added time after a pitch invasion had to be cleared, and Palace pushed for an equaliser but to no avail. Everton held out to snatch all three points on Merseyside, and secure their Premier League status once and for all.

Everton: Pickford (GK), Holgate, Keane, Richarlison (Kenny, 90+1), Calvert-Lewin, Doucoure, Iwobi, Mykolenko, Gomes (Dele, HT), Coleman, Gordon (Gray, 61).

Subs: Begovic (GK), Allan, Godfrey, Davies, van de Beek, Welch.

Palace: Butland (GK), Clyne, Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell, Hughes (Milivojevic, 57), Schlupp (Gallagher, 73), Eze, Ayew, Mateta (Benteke, 81), Zaha.

Subs: Guaita (GK), Ward, Kouyaté, Edouard, Kelly, Rak-Sakyi.