Crystal Palace earn late point with Michy Batshuayi strike at Everton
Everton are struggling to put the good back into Goodison Park and their troubles at home could cost them the chance of a venture abroad. A team with an outstanding away record now only have four points from a possible 18 on their own turf and it is the sort of form that could deny them a return to Europe.
When they were leading here, they were set to go level on points with Liverpool and Tottenham and a game in hand on either. Instead, Michy Batshuayi scored an equaliser two minutes after coming on to give Roy Hodgson a first point at Goodison Park since the 20th century.
Hodgson has not had much to savour at the scene of one of the most damaging days of his ill-fated time in spell of Liverpool. Everton had enjoyed the return of one with happier memories of Anfield, with James Rodriguez scoring on his first appearance since February’s Merseyside derby win.
Yet, courtesy of an extraordinary goalkeeping performance from Vicente Guaita, it was not enough. The Spaniard both spared Hodgson’s side a thrashing and helped earn them a point. The manager contributed, too, as two of his substitutes combined with Jeffrey Schlupp sending Batshuayi through to score.
Yet they had cameos. Guaita was the constant in a brilliant rearguard action. There was no lack of effort or, indeed, efforts at the Palace goal, before Rodriguez broke the deadlock. Richarlison had five attempts before the break alone. He had two more in the last 10 minutes, a half-volley and a shot that drew perhaps the two finest saves from Guaita’s growing collection.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was twice left one-on-one with Guaita without beating him. A World Cup Golden Boot winner proved more clinical than either.
Rodriguez both started and finished a move that involved both wing-backs. He sprayed a pass to Lucas Digne on the left and, after Richarlison backheeled a return pass to him, the Frenchman picked out Gylfi Sigurdsson. Guaita made a terrific save from his shot but Seamus Coleman picked out Rodriguez, who found the net.
The breakthrough should have come sooner. Initially labouring, Everton suddenly fashioned three glorious chances in as many minutes. It might be an exaggeration to say they created the first: Mason Holgate struck a long ball from defence which left Gary Cahill in a race with Calvert-Lewin. Predictably, the veteran lost but Guaita came to his rescue by blocking the striker’s shot.
Jordan Ayew was the next with grounds to thank Guaita. He was dispossessed by André Gomes, who released Richarlison. Guaita parried the Brazilian’s shot and prevented him from scoring the rebound. Richarlison had already headed Coleman’s inviting cross over the bar. Coleman was a marauding presence on a restorative evening after his previous appearance came in Ireland’s embarrassing defeat to Luxembourg.
Rodriguez’s return brought Everton more creativity and he took the free-kick Richarlison headed over. When Richarlison turned supplier with a defence-splitting pass, Calvert-Lewin should have become the first player since Romelu Lukaku to get 20 goals in a season for Everton. Guaita again did well to block a shot.
An injury had a benefit to Everton as Sigurdsson played his part in the breakthrough but it meant the game of musical chairs around the treatment table continued. The cast list of the absentees carries on changing and when Gomes departed injured after half an hour and Sigurdsson came on, Carlo Ancelotti was without his entire first-choice midfield, with Allan and Abdoulaye Doucouré already sidelined. A more surprising sight was Jean-Philippe Gbamin, finally fit enough for a cameo after 19 months out.
Robin Olsen had returned in goal and became busier as Palace responded to trailing by applying pressure. He saved from the irrepressible Eberechi Eze, Wilfried Zaha and Ayew in quick succession. But Hodgson rang the changes and ended his 23-year wait for a point at Goodison.
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