Everton cruised to a rare routine victory as they over-powered Crystal Palace with three second-half goals.
Having dominated without finding the breakthrough, the Toffees broke the deadlock in the first minute of the second half through Gylfi Sigurdsson and were quickly 2-0 up through Oumar Niasse.
Tom Davies was rewarded with his first goal of the season with 15 minutes to go and while Sam Allardyce's side were unable to preserve the clean sheet following Luka Milivojevic's late penalty, they were good value for the victory.
Allardyce had responded to last weekend's horror show against Arsenal by restoring almost the same starting XI that had beaten Leicester. Eliaquim Mangala was handed his debut in place of Phil Jagielka but the line-up was otherwise the same as 10 days ago.
That meant returns for Seamus Coleman, Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson and it was the Icelandic midfielder who had the first real sight of goal when he flashed a shot a foot or so past the goal inside 10 minutes.
Milivojevic threatened briefly for the visitors when he drove a deflected shot wide before Idrissa Gueye was foiled by Hennessey who palmed his excellent 25-yard effort behind.
Sigurdsson and Rooney struck the defensive wall with free kicks from identical positions as Everton tried to press home their superiority but Palace forced a save from the opposition goalkeeper of their own when Yohan Cabaye's bouncing shot was blocked awkwardly by Jordan Pickford.
Christian Benteke then reminded the Blues of his aerial threat after Mangala had been forced off with a knee injury when Alexander Sorloth capitalised on a rare mistake by Coleman and crossed for the Belgian but he missed with his header.
Coleman failed to reappear for the second half, a muscle complaint necessitating a second change from Allardyce that saw Jonjoe Kenny introduced, but any disruption was short-lived as Everton scored less than 60 seconds after the restart.
Niasse quickly latched onto a wayward header by James Tomkins, knocking it back to Sigurdsson who took one smart touch to set himself before firing a slightly deflected shot past Hennessey to make it 1-0.
Sigurdsson was involved again five minutes later with good hold-up play on the touchline that ended with him playing Davies in. A fortunate bounce fell to Cuco Martina who took time to size up a clipped cross for Niasse who steered a header inside the near post to double the lead.
Palace briefly rallied, Benteke going close with an almost identical chance to the one he buried in this fixture last season when his towering header dropped inches wide before his strike partner Sorloth missed with a headed chance of his own.
But Everton weathered the storm and extended their lead through Davies. The impressive Theo Walcott's cross was diverted into the path of Kenny by an errant touch from Tim Fosu-Mensah and the young defender's low cross was turned goalwards by Niasse.
Hennessey clawed his bobbling shot away by his right-hand post where Sigurdsson had followed up to cut the ball back into the six-yard box and Davies converted from close range to make it 3-0.
Allardyce then withdrew Gueye due to a slight know, his choice of Morgan Schneiderlin as a replace greeted with boos from some among the home crowd, befere Palace grabbed what proved to be little more than a consolation seven minutes from time.
Benteke's attempted hook shot struck Ashley Williams's raised arm leaving referee Jonathan Moss little alternative but to award a penalty that Milivojevic scored despite Pickford getting two gloves on his shot.
The win, their second of 2018, moves Everton to within two points of seventh-placed Burnley ahead of a warm-weather training trip to the Middle East that will take advantage of a fortnight's break in the Premier League schedule to accommodate the FA Cup 5th Round.
With a goal and an assist against Crystal Palace this afternoon, Oumar Niasse extracts retribution for that gross injustice back at Selhurst Park where he became the first Premier League player to be punished for unfairly winning a penalty supposedly fooling the referee.
Eliaquim Mangala got his Goodison Debut, with Cenk Tosun still on the subs bench.Seamus Coleman is back in the team after being rested against Arsenal. Rooney and Sigurdsson (who "can't play together")... play together. Bolasie and Schneiderlin were on the bench.
Niasse tried to burst through in Everton's first attack, winning a corner that was defended away. Rooney set Walcott free down the right with a brilliant ball but the Everton layer was wrongly ruled offside.
A horrible back-pass from Mangala sucked Pickford well out of his area, and Cabaye spurned the chance, looping his distant drive across the goal. At the other end, a fine lay-back from Walcott off a great ball from Rooney saw Sigurdsson fire a decent shot just beyond the far post.
Davies was released down the right but rather lashed at his cross, well overhit.> Another mistake from Mangala let Sorloth through and the follow-up saw Milivojevic drive a thunderous shot a foot or two wide.
An Everton attack down the middle saw Gueye fouled and Sigurdsson deliberated with Rooney before firing the set-piece chance off the wall for a corner, Benteke heading it away. Everton were attacking brightly with Niasse released but he was well wide of the goal and could not convert.
Everton had dominated the early play but things went a bit flat around the 20-minute mark with too many errors coming back in and Everton's forward intent became unnecessarily hesitant, Palace winning corner.
Gueye played a difficult crossfield to Walcott who could only cross it to Hennessey at the near post. Walcott did better with a cross that Sigurdsson threatened, winning an Everton corner but once again Benteke was the first man, however, Geuye put in a decent shot, forcing a good save from Hennessey.
Walcott drove through four players and won another dangerous set-piece, this time Rooney hitting the wall for a corner but again nothing came of it.
Better ball retention from Everton came at the cost of slow and too deliberate build-up passing until Davies passed to a defender. But a move down the right came so close, Coleman feeding Walcott and the loose ball came to Davies but his shot was blocked.
Great play form Sigurdsson saw a fine low cross that somehow Walcott could not control and a glorious chance was gone. Cabaye fired in a dropping shot that Pickford shovelled behind for a corner. Benteke bundled it in off Pickford but was called offside.
Everton won anther corner, this one getting beyond Benteke and causing some danger but Mangala went down in pain on the Palace goal-line trying to reach an unorthodox cross from Niasse, falling awkwardly, the play eventually being stopped. Mangala needed more treatment off the pitch and went down again after resuming, Ashley Williams eventually replacing him just before half-time with 2 added minutes.
Sorloth came so close to setting up Benteke for a goal as the big Palace nemesis mis-directed his header between McArthur and the goal, a very dangerous chance.
Coleman was withdrawn at the break, replaced by Jonjoe Kenny. From a nothing hoofball, Niasse cleverly played in Sigurdsson who fired home from near the dee with possibly a slight deflection inside the first minute of the second half.
Some ugly sloppiness at the back had Evertonians sweating as they seemed determined to set up Palace with an equalizer. But at the other end, Martina in space picked out Niasse whose very accomplished header was directed nicely inside Henessey's post.
A great run through the middle by Walcott and exchange with Niasse almost paid off as Everton looked suddenly a lot more comfortable thanks to two quick goals. Van Aanholt was booked for very little. Cabaye delivered a fine cross onto Benteke's head and he overpowered Kenny to direct it just an inch outside of the post with Pickford stranded.
Rooney once again showed his brilliant vision and execution picking out Walcott with a fantastic diagonal cross-field pass but the exchange with Kenny was defended away and Palace set up their nbest move, Van Aanholt whipping in a fine cross for Sorloth to power goalaward forcing a good stretching save from Pickdore to keep it out.
Palace attacked with determination, winning a corner that caused panic, Walcott committing the foul in the midfield and getting a yellow card from John Moss. Fosu-Mensah gifted Everton a corner with a poor clearance, delivered a little better by Sigurdsson but still not ending in a decent chance.
Everton seasled the win with an attack down the right , Kenny playing a nice low ball for Oumar Niasse to scuff his a shot towards the corner of the goal and as Wayne Hennessey palmed it away, Gylfi Sigurdsson raced in to turn the ball back into the 6-yard box where Tom Davies was on hand to slot home the third goal in front of the Gwladys Street.
Gana, who had played well, was clapped off only for Schneiderlin to be loudly booed onto the field as the third and final substitute with 10 minutes left.
Van Aanholt fired in a wicked shot Pickford had to push behind for a corner that caussed havoc, Kenny raising his arms and handling it amidst the goalmouth mayhem, and Moss giving the penalty that Milivojevic drove hard past Pickford, despite him getting a touch.
Sigurdsson delivered a great curling free-kick to the far post where Keane was denied by Tomkins. Palace pushed hard for another goal but smart intervention by Rooney pushed them back up field and let Davies run time down in the corner.
Another above-average crowd went home happy after witnessing an above-average performance by Everton that only served to underline how poor the effort had been last weekend against Arsenal at The Emirates.
Scorers: Sigurdsson (46'), Niasse (51'), Davies (75')
Everton: Pickford, Coleman (46' Kenny), Keane, Mangala (44' Williams), Martina, Davies, Gueye (81' Schneiderlin), Rooney, Walcott [Y:68'], Sigurdsson, Niasse.
Subs not Used: Robles, Bolasie, Tosun, Calvert-Lewin.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Fosu-Mensah, , Van Aanholt [Y:54'], Townsend, Cabaye, Milivojevic, McArthur, Sorloth, Benteke.
Subs: Henry, Souare, Riedewald, Delaney, Lee, Wan-Bissaka, Rakip.
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Looking up, not down
With Gaz not driving to this one Ste and I planned to make our way over and make a bit of an evening of it after the game, I was therefore very grateful for Dan who picked me up in Birkenhead while on route to Goodison Park.
With plenty of time we went to the Barlow Arms to catch the Tottenham vs Arsenal game, which wasn’t very good in all fairness. We arrived in the pub in time for kick off and got a cracking little spec to watch the game, it didn’t half busy up though and come about 2pm we were grateful we’d gotten there in time to get a good seat.
The team news, unsurprisingly, reverted back to a similar team to that which defeated Leicester City 10 days or so ago. Rooney back into midfield, Sigurdsson occupying the left hand side and Tom Davies linking between midfield and attack. The main change was the introduction of Eliaquim Mangala at the heart of defence alongside Michael Keane. Seamus Coleman returned to right back. Crystal Palace featured Christian Benteke, Yohan Cabaye and new signing Alexander Sorloth who made a very impressive debut in my opinion. I’ll look out for him, he looks more than handy.
As has been the current mood, the atmosphere was rather flat first half and the players didn’t do an awful lot to get you off your seat really. Two efforts from distance almost did it for us. Early on Gylfi Sigurdsson let fly, his effort flashing just wide of Wayne Hennesey’s right hand post; and, later in the half following a cleared corner kick, Idrissa Gueye hit one from distance, which was well saved by Hennessey.
Otherwise the half was rather frustrating and the Eagles did have us on the back foot at times when poor defensive errors almost let them in. Cuco Martina hesitated with a chance to head a ball clear, and the crowd let him know it. He seemed a bit shaken by this and shortly afterwards missed an opportunity for volley the ball out and it instead dinked behind for a Crystal Palace corner, which thankfully came to nothing. Michael Keane, separately, gave the ball away horribly when trying to find Seamus Coleman but thankfully recovered to rob the ball back from Sorloth. In fairness to Keane he was looking for a ball out and there was nobody really showing for it.
Mangala, who wasn’t doing too terribly by this point, got injured in the Crystal Palace penalty area and couldn’t recover to make it through until half time. Obviously I’ve no knowledge of the severity of his injury but I found it strange that he couldn’t make it through a further two minutes to at least get until half time and see how it was. Seamus Coleman managed to get there. “That’s the last we’ll see of him!” joked Duncan as he made his way off the field. It meant that with two minutes stoppage time still to play, an unprepared Ashley WIlliams was thrown in there and with the defence all over the place Benteke nearly capitalised when his header drifted just wide. It was a good opportunity and we may well have seen a different outcome to the game had Crystal Palace got their noses in front at the break. Come half time it had been pretty dismal at that point.
At the break there was a nice tribute to John Motson who commentated on his last ever game at Goodison Park at this game. He’s been very much the voice of football for me over the years and I still enjoy listening to his insight on Radio Five Live from time to time. He’ll be missed.
Thankfully Everton were much improved after the break and hit the ground running straight away when Oumar Niasse made the most of a poor James Tomkins header and rescued possession, feeding the ball to Gylfi. Our Icelander didn’t hesitate to and hit well from distance, the ball deflecting on the way through past Hennessey. I’m interested to know how significant the deflection was as none of the camera angles really told you. The shot didn’t wrong-foot Hennessey and seemed to be finding its way into the corner. Regardless, we were now ahead. If you think back to the Benteke miss effectively just a minute or two earlier, it goes to show how much fine margins can decide games.
Only five minutes later we were two goals to the good. Great work by Gylfi Sigurdsson ultimately lead to Cuco Martina finding space in the penalty area and he had the calmness to look up and play a ball in to Niasse who headed in to put us 2-0 up. The players celebrated quite near us and I don’t know who was happeri Niasse with the goal, or Martina with the assist. It was nice to see all the players celebrate together and that’s two left footed assists in two games for our right footed fill-in left back.
Crystal Palace tried to retaliate and Jordan Pickford had to make a couple of good saves to keep it at 2-0. Christian Benteke also headed wide with another good opportunity when perhaps he should have done better. Crystal Place were made to rue these missed chances of course when Oumar Niasse’s deflected effort was brilliantly saved by Hennessey. The Welshman will have been gutted to see SIgurdsson anticipating well and sweep the ball back from the by-line for Tom Davies to hook into the goal. I was pleased for Tom as he has come under a little bit of flack this season and it was good to see smiles all round as the lads celebrated putting the game out of sight. Tom’s first goal of the season and his first since that wonder-goal against Manchester City about a year ago. I noticed amongst the celebrations, Oumar Niasse and Cuco Martina were provided with energy tablets to keep them going for the final 15-20 minutes.
Everton of course tried to make it difficult for themselves when frantic defending from a corner kick eventually resulted in Ashley Williams handling in the penalty area and there could be no complaints when Jonathan Moss pointed to the penalty spot. Crystal Palace seem to have had a penalty every week this season and have missed plenty of them, but Luka Milivojevic made no mistake this time, even though Jordan Pickford almost managed to keep it out.
I was very disappointed with the booing of Morgan Schneiderlin when he took to the field. Morgan has suffered a lot of criticism this season, some of it justified given poor performances, apparent issues in training and a careless red card in Lyon, but I can’t justify him being booed onto the pitch and feel if we get behind him we are surely more likely to get the player back that looked so impressive last season. Some of the booing was probably aimed at Sam’s substitution itself. We’d all rather have seen Cenk Tosun get some minutes, but it was injury related, and give we conceded shortly afterwards it was probably useful having a defensive midfielder out there.
Thankfully we managed to get through the remainder of the game safely enough and collect the three points. We played very well for about an hour of the game against Leicester City in our last home outing, and also did well in the second half of this one. These periods of play have to be the benchmark for the remainder of the season, home and away. We’ve two away games coming up now and if we win them both we will definitely move up one place minimum. It’s a great opportunity for the players to bring this home form on the road, though I’d be gobsmacked if they achieved it.
PIckford: He made more impressive saves and almost saved the penalty. He seems pretty comfortable handling crosses, so I don’t quite understand why he seldom tries to hold on to shots on goal and prefers to palm them out. As long as he saves them I suppose it doesn’t matter, maybe he’d rather not take the chance but it does seem strange to me. Regardless, he’s certainly one of the big positives for this season…one of few of course. 7
Martina: Recovered from a shaky first half and did OK in the second half, including an assist. 6
Keane: Generally did quite well. I still think he alongside Phjil Jagielka is our best partnership. 6
Mangala: I hope his injury isn’t too serious and that we get to have more of a look at him to see if it’s worth signing him permanently or not, as he wasn’t doing badly for most of the first half following a challenging opening 15 minutes. 6
Coleman: Was doing well, probably more so defensively than offensively before injury ruled him out at the break. Hopefully he can recover quickly and be back soon. I really want him firing on all cylinders come the games against Manchester City and Liverpool at the end of March and start of April. 7
Gueye: I think playing as a lone defensive midfielder suits him better than alongside one. He covers the ground brilliantly and keeps things ticking along. Unlucky not to score also. 7
Rooney: Some of his passing in the second half was outstanding. It looks like we’ve found his best position and with games now separating out a bit he should get a consistent run of games. 7
Sigurdsson: A goal, an assist and a big part played in our second goal - you can’t ask for more than that really. He did very well throughout and was always a threat. Before the game I was championing the idea of playing Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the left instead, but it’s nice to be wrong with that one. My man of the match. 8
Walcott: He must be a full-backs dream. He’s always good for a pass, always works hard to get back and defend and offers great pace in attacking areas. He seems a really good pro and it’s great to have brought in a player offering a genuine improvement on what we already had. 7
Davies: Was busy and productive throughout and it was nice to see him get on the scoresheet. Well done Tom. He’s remained positive on the pitch throughout what must have been a challenging season for a young player. 7
Niasse: Certainly should remain in the team for now, if only for his selfless running alone. That’s seven goals this season for Oumar. He’ll likely make double figures for the campaign and that would be some achievement given how he has been in and out of the team an awful lot and began the season not part of Ronald Koeman’s plans at all. 7
Williams (for Mangala): After a tough couple of minutes upon his introduction, he had a decent second half, though like everyone, was all over the place for the corner kick that led to Crystal Palace’s penalty kick. 6
Kenny (for Coleman): Came on and coped admirably and contributed to our attacks well. He played a role in our third goal and was solid defensively also. Well done Jonjoe. 7
Schneiderlin (for Gueye): Filled a few defensive positions. 6