Sometimes you just need to find a way of winning when you’ve been in the driving seat but things just aren’t clicking where they need to be. It can be the measure of good teams and good managers and today Everton and Marco Silva engineered victory when it seemed as though they were destined to be shut out by a typically obstinate Crystal Palace side.
Last season’s 3-1 win over the Eagles at Goodison Park was an unusually routine affair; recent years have been marked by frustrating encounters against Palace, starting with that crushing 3-2 defeat in Roberto Martinez’s first season that effectively ended the Blues’ Champions League hopes. It was the same scoreline the following campaign despite Romelu Lukaku getting the home side off to an early lead and the following two seasons featured annoying 1-1 draws.
Another point looked to be on the cards this afternoon until all three of Silva’s substitutes weighed in to win this game with a thrilling conclusion. Fortune favoured the brave, indeed, because on an afternoon when little came off for Bernard, Theo Walcott had one of those inexplicable bouts of ineffectiveness and Richarlison was often guilty of over-elaboration or a stubborn refusal to give up the ball, it needed something different to pick the lock to the visitors’ defence.
Pleasingly, both for the individuals concerned and what it says about the depth of options open to Silva now that his injury problems have eased, the heroes of the 11th hour were three players who have a fair bit to prove under the new regime. Ademola Lookman supplied the deft cross for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to steer a header past Wayne Hennessey and Cenk Tosun, forced back to the bench for the last two games, rapped home the killer second goal, all within the space of less than two of the dying minutes.
Of course, it’s unlikely that we Blues would be toasting a third Premier League win in succession were it not for Jordan Pickford. The England international pulled off a brilliant stretching save in the first half to deny Cheikhou Kouyaté as Everton almost buckled from another set-piece and then made a superb stop with his trailing foot to prevent Luka Milivojevic from putting Palace ahead from the spot with an hour gone.
The penalty save proved to be the turning point of what was at times a scrappy and testy affair, punctured incessantly by referee Anthony Taylor’s whistle. It was also the moment that ignited a Goodison atmosphere that had become patient but tempered by some anxiety that Everton weren’t going to find a way through on this particular afternoon.
After all, in addition to Palace’s reputation as playing the spoiler at Goodison and the recent stumbles against Huddersfield and West Ham, Everton had a miserable record in Sunday televised matches coming into the weekend and there was the rather curious statistic that the last time they had won without Tom Davies playing was December 2016… and the 20-year-old midfielder wasn’t in today’s starting XI.
That was because André Gomes was handed his long-awaited home debut, 10 long weeks after he signed on a season-long loan from Barcelona. Finally deemed fit after picking up a hamstring injury on the Spanish club’s pre-season tour in America, the Portuguese international lined up alongside Idrissa Gueye in a partnership that immediately looks like it will be the way forward for Silva this season if both can stay healthy.
Despite not having played competitive football for months or ever featured in the Premier League before, Gomes slotted into midfield like he had been playing there for years. A little cautious at times, perhaps — understandably so against difficult opposition who don’t give you time on the ball — but the 25-year-old epitomised tidiness and composure, always looking to move the ball and the team forward when possible while also mopping up in a defensive capacity when needed.
Again, a fit-again Gomes offers the manager options, just as he has a few in attacking areas, particularly when things just aren’t happening for certain players. Bernard was electric at Leicester last time out but in this, his second Premier League start, he struggled to find his feet… quite literally at times as he slipped on a couple of occasions on the wet Goodison Park turf.
That’s not to say he wasn’t without threat but in his better moments he probably should have taken a shot just three minutes but elected to defer to a team-mate and laid it square, while in the second half he got clear down the left flank but didn’t centre it for Walcott who was storming in on goal begging for the pass.
His compatriot, Richarlison, meanwhile, didn’t have the same goalscoring impact as he did at the King Power Stadium but he played an important role as the focus of the attack, even if he still needs to learn when to bring others into the game on a more consistent basis rather than run into blind alleys when team-mates are in support. A 13th minute opportunity created by Gueye smartly robbing Milivojevic in the centre circle was a case in point — Richarlison tried to go it alone and was closed out by a clutch of yellow shirts.
He would go close at the end of the first half with a header off a corner, however, which, when added to Seamus Coleman’s rising drive in the 10th minute and a Gylfi Sigurdsson shot that narrowly missed just before half time, was one of few clear chances that Everton created in a first half that ended up being a lot more even than they would have liked.
Indeed, Palace grew into the contest as the first period wore on and, were it not for James Tomkins planting a free header wide from Andros Townsend’s flighted cross and Pickford’s efforts to push Milivojevic’s free kick wide and then deny Kouyate so expertly from the resulting corner, Roy Hodgson’s men might have gone into the break a goal up.
Just as they were against Fulham in their last home fixture, Everton were better in the second half. Unlike the win over the Cottagers, it just took longer to make the breakthrough, and this time they needed some help from Pickford to keep things level at 0-0.
Wilfried Zaha, passed fit despite pulling out of Ivory Coast’s second Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in the week because of a groin strain, had been a constant thorn in Everton’s side and the home crowd had already tired of his endless moaning at the officials by the time he went down in the area under the attentions of Coleman with an hour played.
Citing contact made by the Irishman on the Palace winger’s leg as he cut the ball back to go around him, referee Taylor pointed to the spot and Goodison held its collective breath while Pickford analysed Milivojevic’s run-up. The ‘keeper dived to his left but was alive to the possibility that the Australian international might go down the middle and he made an excellent save with his foot, diverting the ball up and to the side where Michael Keane headed safely behind.
That spurred Everton into action and Walcott was handed a great chance to break the deadlock at the other end when Gomes fed Sigurdsson with a neat pass and the Icelander split the defence with an equally well-weighted ball. Walcott shot too close to Hennessey, however, and the ‘keeper saved with his legs.
Gomes himself saw a low curling shot skid past the post and Sigurdsson had another effort deflected behind but, despite a succession of corners, those few chances, and a clear pull on Richarlison in the Palace area that went unpunished, the scoreline remained at 0-0.
Sensing the need for an impactful last throw of the dice, Silva, having already replaced Bernard with Tosun, made a double change with 10 minutes to go, taking Walcott and Gomes off and throwing on Calvert-Lewin and Lookman. And, seven minutes later, the latter two combined to put Everton ahead.
Keane, who was excellent throughout, had stayed up following a free kick on the right, rose to nod forward a high clearance, Richarlison laid it off to Lookman and the young winger paused before clipping a beautiful ball to the six-yard box where Calvert-Lewin had time to pick his spot and head home to the delight of the Goodison faithful.
Palace went in search of an immediate equaliser and Hodgson was readying Conor Wickham to come on to bolster that effort when the Eagles were caught on the break-away. Sigurdsson helped deflect Geoff Schlupp’s attempted pad outside the Blues’ box, Keane swept the ball into the opposition half and Tosun took off past Mamadou Sakho towards goal. Two touches later, he slammed it through Hennessey’s legs before sprinting away to knee-slide in celebration of his second goal of the season.
That set the seal on what was a massive finale in the context of a home win that takes on extra importance given the upcoming run of away games against “big six” teams. The performance was a bit of a grind at times, not helped by the stop-start nature of the contest, particularly in the first half, and the two starting wingers and Coleman in particular might look back on an erratic day at the office but it’s important to believe that the sharpness and potency will come from greater familiarity and with the progression of the season.
Gomes’s Premier League baptism was a hugely encouraging one, as were the performances of Keane, Kurt Zouma and Lucas Digne at the back as they restricted Palace to few real chances of note from open play.
Three wins in succession and a move back into the top ten has Silva’s side well placed as they prepare for the trip to Old Trafford next weekend. It’s difficult matches like those that will show just how far Everton could conceivably go this season so early in the new manager’s tenure but the future looks very bright.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun both came on for the last 10 minutes and score late on as Crystal Palace make it very difficult, Pickford saving a penalty won by Zaha.
André Gomes started his first game for Everton, over two months since joining the club. Coleman displaces Kenny. Captian Tom Davies drops to the bench. For the visitors, Zaha is declared fit to start.
The game began with some physical stuff from each side and stop-start down the Everton right until Sigurdsson found Bernard but he Seemed to trip/backheel the ball. The attack was recycled before Sigurdsson launched a cross too deep for anyone to profit.
Gomes was understandably rusty and gave away a free-kick that could have been dangerous, as a physical battle between Richarlison and Sahko as Digne won Everton's first corner, which found the first defender. More recycling of the ball but far too slow to create any fear until Bernard's cross for Coleman was hit rather poorly well over the bar by the Everton Captain.
A brilliant long ball from Pickford to Richarlison saw him collide with Tomkins and go down far too easily. Richarlison got a chance to run at Palace with the ball but he was very easily dispossessed when he reached the area.
Richarlison got a chance to break with the ball but fumbled it badly and lost the Blues any initiative, but Everton benefitted from gift turnovers only to again squander any advantage with poor control under pressure, the quality leaving something to be desired in terms of composure.
Another free-kick for Palace but repelled well enough with Richarlison feeding Gomes who held onto the ball too long and saw it stolen off his toe. But a silly moment in defence, Zouma playing a strange backpass that Coleman finally woke up to. But some good pressing by Sigurdsson in turn almost won a corner. /p>
Yet another free-kick to Palace for very little, this time by Bernard, and Coleman did well enough. Pressure on Zaha, who was double-teamed way back into his own area, managed to release a good attack. But Digne cleared and Tomkins clattered Richarlison, giving away a foul.
Build-up play from the Bles was slow and deliberate until Walcott, who had been very quiet, lost a poor pass, allowing another yellow swarm up the field, the quality of football in the first quarter very poor at best, with Palace successfully chocking any Everton initiative.
Finally, a great exchange between Sigur and Col saw a fine shot on target saved by Hen but the corner was very easily cleared and Gana tugged on Zaha's shirt for a poor yellow card. Gomes clumsily trod on Zaha's ankle — another free kick, creating a really scrappy spell, Zaha pushing over Zouma. Pickford took the free-kick quickly trying to find Sigurdsson with another tremendous long ball.But the ball was right back in the Everton area, Pickford unable to stop a corner that saw a dangerous glancing header flash wide of his goal. An attack developed but it was very scrappy and Sigurdsson lashed a shot high, wide and horrible.
Zouma was next to be called for fouling Zaha, yet another free-kick, forcing a good save by Pickford off the slick surface. Somehow, Palace failed to score, hitting the bar, and the next corner saw Sahko with a free header but penalized.
Bernard was not getting past his man and another foul committed. Next, Sigurdsson was fouled, another scrappy attack ensued, breaking down and Palace attacking strongly again.
Richarlison on a wandering run was fouled by Kouyate but Sigurdsson could not beat the wall. Bernard was again blocked, getting a corner that was headed well by Richarlison but a foot over the bar.
Some better passing but this time Digne lost the ball, recycled again until Sigurdsson saw a small space, slightly scuffed on the strike, shooting wide. A great break forward by Bernard, but Richarlison was immediately blocked by four Palace defenders.
A very niggly, physical, scrappy, stop-start half of earnest and competitive football that was never easy on the eye — anything but. 20 fouls — 10 each. Would Silva do anything at half-time to change the seemingly inevitable pattern of the game? The simple answer to that: A resounding No!
The match resumed and a little better, Bernard won a corner but got shoved hard into the hoardings. Digne swings it in but Kouyate falls over and Taylor blows. Very poor decision. Coleman does well to get a corner on the other side, Sigurdsson picking out Keane, headed well wide.
Bernard looked to beat his man again but failed. A horrible tackle on Richarlison looked worthy of red but only a yellow for Milivojevic. A rare intervention by Walcott, chipped into Hennessy's hands. Then he did much better from the right, then Gomes blocked after better pressure, a shot deflected. Digne's brilliant corner just over Keane. Coleman running in well but not picking out anyone in Blue.
A far better spell by Everton, with a free-kick deep left swung in by Digne, Bernard trying to find Richarlison who could not evade his marker. Zaha diving again roused the Goodison faithful but Palace attacked, fortunately breaking down. A horrible spell of non-football ended with Zaha going down again, caught on the ankle by Coleman as he turned, and Taylor correctly giving a penalty, but somehow it just didn't look right. Milivojevic's spot kick was saved brilliantly by Pickford with his foot.
Walcott got through off a great pass but fired too close to Hennessey, he really should have scored, as the game finally came to life. Bernard had another great run but just lost it trying to play in with his right foot, shockingly poor with Walcott free and ready to score off a ball that never came. Bernard, who had had a tough game, was sacrificed for Tosun with 23 minutes left, Richarlison moving out to the left.
Palace had a good spell, the ball coming back to them off every Blue touch until Pickford could grasp the cross. At the other end, a corner that Keane got toot but let it fly off the top of his head, with no attempt to direct it goalwards.
Palace tried to get behind the Everton defence and Zouma was forced to give up the corner, that the Blues defended away. But the play remained in Everton's half as Palace pushed up but it broke to Walcott who beat his man but had to backtrack for Gomes whose shot was curled wide.
With Zaha getting dog's abuse from the crowd, convinced he dived for the penalty, Tomkins was down and out after getting an elbow in the face from his own player, the crowd well unsympathetic. Slightly better play among Walcott and Gomes — who managed to tackle himself! — ended with a poor shot from Sigurdsson deflected wide.
Another Everton corner from the left was defended away and Coleman was booked for his foul on Zaha as Palace tried to break. Lookman and Calvert-Lewin were brought on for Gomes and Walcott, Everton switching to 4-2-4... very brave by Silva!
Digne's corner again bounced off the top of Zouma's head: no direction. Lookman was fouled, Sigurdsson delivering superbly but a defender connected, but on the recycle, Lookman, crossed in well and rising like a gazelle, powered in a very fine header past Hennessey for a very very precious goal.
A great clearance form the back landed well for Tosun who scampered away, controlled the ball very well on the run, and absolutely lashed his finish through Hennessey, a fine goal for the lad.
Tosun saw sight of goal and wellied another, this time into the side-netting as Everton played out 4 minutes of added time and a fine win that looked at times a very long way away, so massive kudos to Silva for two brilliant substitutions, giving Everton a third successive Premier League win and up to 8th place in the table.
Scorers: Calvert-Lewin (87'), Tosun (89')
Everton: Pickford, Coleman [Y:80'], Keane, Zouma, Digne, Gomes (82' Calvert-Lewin), Geuye [Y:29'], Sigurdsson, Walcott (82' Lookman), Bernard (67' Tosun), Richarlison.
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Baines, Mina, Davies.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, van Aanholt, [Y:51'], McArthur (89' Wickham), Kouyate; Schlupp, Zaha, Townsend.
Subs not Used: Guaita, Ayew, Kakai, Kelly, Puncheon, Riedewald.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Eruption of joy at Goodison Park
Given it was still about two and a half hours until kick-off, we were a bit surprised by the number of parked cars at our usual parking area. We were in the pub with plenty of time to kill. Steven, an Evertonian friend who had travelled over for the game from Netherlands, joined us for a few beers also. It was nice to catch up with him and his Dad.
The team news information came through and we were all pretty excited to see Andrew Gomes had made the starting XI. Seamus Coleman also returned with Yerry Mina making his first appearance in an Everton squad, albeit as an unused substitute.
We headed on to Goodison Park in good time, even stopping for a bit of food on the way. The way the atmosphere was bubbling pre kick-off – you felt you were going to experience the famous Goodison Park roar throughout but such turgid and scrappy was the first half, the only noise you could really hear was the sound of the Crystal Palace supporters singing “This is a library”.
Indeed, Crystral Palace proved stern opposition, particularly in the first half. Gylfi Sigurdsson came closest to scoring for Everton when his drive from a Seamus Coleman cross was slapped around the post by Welshman Wayne Hennessey. At the other end of the pitch, however, it was Chekhou Kouyate who came closest to scoring in the half when his header from a corner kick came back off the underside of the crossbar and was bundled away out of play.
It was a difficult half to watch with neither team really settling, but Everton did at least finish the half strongly and Richarlison wasn’t too far away from scoring when he rose well to head Lucas Digne’s header at goal, but it was about a yard over the crossbar.
Mercifully Everton have changed the half-time entertainment and no longer do the ‘Generations Game’ style carousel, and have instead thankfully reverted to the old ‘Hit The Bar’ competition. That certainly makes half-time much more bearable.
Everton attacked the Gwladys Street in the second half and the crowd came to life, instilling a much better atmosphere as we willed the team on. It was quite the struggle, with our forward line really failing to find a telling cutting edge in the final third, but our performance was much improved on the first half.
We were probably in the ascendancy when Crystal Palace earned themselves a penalty when the infuriating Wilfred Zaha scampered into the box, drew a foul from Seamus Coleman, and gladly hit the deck. Anthony Taylor pointed to the penalty spot. I haven’t seen it since so have no idea if it should have been a penalty or not. In any event, up stepped Luka Milivojevic who went down the middle. Jordan jumped to his left but managed to leave enough of his leg outstretched in the middle of the goal and was able to volley the ball away from danger. Though not a great penalty, a brilliant save by Jordan and it was good work by whoever operates the screens at Goodison Park when it quickly displayed “ENGLAND NO 1” while showing repeats of the save.
This really ignited the crowd and Goodison Park became something of a cauldron. I’ve got to say, I’m liking the atmosphere that’s generally generated from Marco SIlva’s style of football. I always felt the Goodison Park atmosphere was good under David Moyes, largely due to the high tempo play he would instil. Under Roberto Martinez’s slow-paced, patient football the atmosphere was often flat. Under Ronald Koeman it was indifferent, and under Sam Allardyce it was toxic. Marco’s tempo makes the atmosphere a bit more like the David Moyes days, which is a good thing in my opinion.
Hope turned to expectation and, shortly after the spot-kick, Theo Walcott was put through on goal and should have scored but was thwarted by Wayne Hennessey. Marco Silva bravely went for the kill. Cenk Tosun had already been introduced, but he added Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to the fray, and all three made telling contributions to secure three valuable points.
With time receding and Everton on the front foot, Lookman picked up the ball at the edge of the penalty area and crossed, Calvert-Lewin, despite Wayne Hennessey getting a hand to it, heading the ball into the net and triggering jubilant scenes in the stands.
Crystal Palace then launched forward from the restart and Michael Keane gave the ball the big hoof up field. Cenk Tosun was onto it, away from the defender and through on goal, and finished smartly through the legs of Hennessey. Everton with two late goals from two late substitutes causing an eruption of joy at Goodison Park, oh, and you’ve got to love a knee-slide celebration!
The last few minutes thereafter were party time as the crowd celebrated the three points. Three wins on the bounce for Everton in what was an enjoyable day at the game. Next Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford could well be the biggest indicator yet of how far Marco’s Blues have come in a short space of time.
Pickford: My man of the match. He saved everything he had to well, not least the spot kick, and also distributed brilliantly in the second half. Played a very key role in our win, and that’s now two clean sheets in three games. Well done Jordan. 8
Digne: Did pretty well getting forward, albeit without much of an end product in the final third. 6
Keane: Rock solid at the back. 8
Zouma: It speaks volumes of Keane and Zouma that Yerry Mina is not a certainty to play such is their form. They’ve struck up a good partnership together and seem quite settled. 8
Coleman: Not quite at the races. 5
Gueye: Though a lot of his passing was astray, his ability to win the ball and intercept was extremely valuable and important to our victory. 8
Gomes: An impressive debut from André particularly given he hasn’t played in some time. He was a little rusty but you can see he’s a top player. He always seems to find space and have time on the ball and has a calm head on his shoulders. I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s doing in about 10 games time when he’s really up to speed but I think we’ll enjoy having him. A Rolls-Royce of a player. 7
Sigurdsson: Effort was there but he didn’t quite orchestrate as he has in the previous few games. 7
Bernard: Not quite at his best but always a threat. 6
Walcott: A bit off colour. 6
Richarlison: The pick of the forward line. Put in a solid brave effort. 7
Tosun (for Barnard): Took his goal very well and linked up the attack. Great to see him come in and contribute. I really want him to succeed. He seems a good lad and looks to be popular with his team mates. 8
Calvert-Lewin (for Gomes): What a great impact from Dominic. Well done. 7
Lookman (for Walcott): Also a great impact. Well done, Ademola. Worth a start against Manchester United? 7
Everton look to build on two successive Premier League wins as Crystal Palace come to town with the domestic programme resuming following the latest international break.
The Blues go in search of a third league victory on the bounce which, if successful, would be the first time they've managed it since January last year during what was the best spell of Ronald Koeman's aborted tenure.
Coincidentally, the third team they beat in that sequence was Palace when Seamus Coleman's late winner secured all three points at Selhurst Park. That result came in the midst of a run of just one defeat in eight games which sparked hopes that the Dutchman was finally getting his arms around the Everton job after an erratic first few months at the helm.
That proved to be a false hope, of course, and eventually ushered in the Marco Silva era, one which is starting to coalesce into something positive and forward-looking, the League Cup exit on penalties to Southampton notwithstanding. A stellar second-half display against Fulham at Goodison Park three weeks ago was followed up with a terrific away performance at Leicester that moved Everton to the cusp of the top half, four points off the top six.
The improving match sharpness of Bernard is seen as one crucial piece of Silva's jigsaw but the return to fitness of five players, two of whom haven't even played yet, will merely strengthen his hand in terms of options.
Yerry Mina and André Gomes are finally available following this summer moves from Barcelona, while James McCarthy is also fit after recovering from a double leg break in January. Seamus Coleman appears to be ready now that a stress fracture in his foot has healed and Beni Baningime's recovery from an ankle injury will bolster the numbers ahead of a fixture for which Idrissa Gueye is rated as doubtful.
The Senegal international sustained an ankle knock of his own on international duty but Silva hasn't ruled him out of passing a late fitness test.
“It's a small problem,” the Portuguese told the media today during his press conference. “We have one more day tomorrow and Sunday after that to decide. He's getting better and we will have more hours to make a decision [on his fitness].”
Asked whether all three of the longer-term absentees would be available to play some part in Sunday's game, Silva said: “It's possible. André is working hard and doing very well and he is completely fit.
“Mina is in the same situation and James as well. Of course, James's situation is a little bit different because it was a bad injury but he is doing well.
“They are in good condition if I take that decision [to play them]. It's important and, of course, it's not just about Mina but (Phil) Jagielka and Mason (Holgate) as well in our central defence.
“They need to work hard to achieve what they want, to play in our starting XI. It's not easy at this moment; not easy for me or easy for them to take the positions.
While Mina's debut is hotly anticipated given his pedigree, price tag and goalscoring exploits off set-pieces at the World Cup in Russia, it would be a surprise to see him walk straight into the starting XI. Michael Keane has shrugged off his early-season jitters with a series of assured displays either side of his head injury while Kurt Zouma has been in fine form since coming to the side.
McCarthy's chances of a start might rest on Gueye's fitness while Silva might elect to ease Gomes into action off the bench in the same way he did with Bernard.
It points to the strong possibility that Silva could name an unchanged starting line-up from the one he chose at the King Power Stadium, with perhaps the only change being Coleman coming back in place of Jonjoe Kenny if he is 100% ready.
For their part, Palace could be without their biggest threat in the form of Wilfried Zaha. Like Idrissa Gueye, the Ivorian was forced to pull out of his country's second Africa Cup of Nations qualifier this week because of injury.
Zaha, the Eagles' top scorer with three, will undergo a late assessment on a groin injury. Joel Ward and Jonny Williams have been ruled out while Max Meyer and Alexander Sorloth could miss out through illness.
Having started the season positively, Roy Hodgson's men are winless in their last three matches and have won just once in five games. They begin the weekend in 14th place, five points behind Everton.
There's no question that, with a trip to Old Trafford around the corner and then visits to Stamford Bridge and Anfield looming beyond, another home victory would come as another big boost to the progress Silva has made in recent weeks. Establishing some momentum before the hectic winter programme kicks in will be vital to Everton's prospects of improving on last season's eighth-place finish.
Kick-off: 4pm, Sunday 21 October, 2018
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Last Time: Everton 3 - 1 Crystal Palace
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne, Schneiderlin, Davies, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Bernard, Richarlison