Match Report If Farhad Moshiri, in his increasingly questionable wisdom, hoped that the appointment of Rafael Benitez might buy some stability at Goodison Park after five tumultuous years then he has been sorely mistaken. His Everton project, so laden with ambition and optimism at the outset, is in chaos right now with an ever-growing rift developing between his regime and the supporters.At the heart of it is his decision to hire Benitez just four years after the insult of Sam Allardyce; another arranged marriage foisted on an unwilling and powerless fanbase and one rushing headlong towards another expensive divorce. It’s unlikely to be this week — the Monaco-based billionaire’s ego might keep his finger off the trigger for a while longer — but you feel there is an inevitability about it while performances and results like this continue. André Gomes might have been a timely introduction in the second half of Monday’s rousing victory over Arsenal but few were under any illusions that a horrendous run of results, the club’s worst in 22 years, was arrested by anything other than the viscerally raw passion of the Goodison crowd and the individual brilliance of Demarai Gray and Richarlison.Without any of those factors at Selhurst Park this afternoon — Gray was game and had a couple of opportunities to repeat his heroics from outside the penalty area but failed to unduly test Vitor Guaita in the Crystal Palace goal and Richarlison was dragged off disconsolately before an hour had elapsed — Everton reverted to the passive, reactive, turgid outfit they were at Brentford a fortnight ago and have been, in truth, in almost every first half you can recall under Benitez. The Blues have conceded the first goal in 12 of their 16 Premier League games this season and have, not surprisingly, won more points from losing positions than any other this season. It’s not hard to see why — they seem to need the urgency of going a goal behind to belatedly spark some intensity in their play which is no way to approach life in England’s top flight.Today their almost comical inability to consistently defend set-pieces saw to it that they were 2-0 down and effectively beaten before Salomon Rondon, a controversial introduction to the fray in place of Richarlison just a few minutes earlier, had had a chance to even take the temperature of the game.Somewhat perversely, given the derision that greeted Benitez’s choice of substitution, the Venezuelan finally scored his first Everton goal but his tap-in was barely consolation on a day when Conor Gallagher stole the show with two goals and a man-of-the-match display for the Eagles and the toxicity of chants aimed at the away dugout reached new levels.The news that Lucas Digne had not travelled with the squad strengthened the belief that the Frenchman has fallen out badly with the manager but it was compounded by the loss to injury of Allan who picked up a knock on Monday and wasn’t able to train fully on Friday.Still, Benitez finally opted for a three-man midfield, albeit one without a genuine holding man, with Gomes and Fabian Delph playing alongside Abdoulaye Doucouré but even then it didn’t last much beyond 20 minutes before it lapsed back into a two with Gomes told to push forward. The out-of-form Andros Townsend was preferred to Anthony Gordon on his return to his old stomping ground while Ben Godfrey continued at left-back as Mason Holgate partnered Michael Keane in central defence.The early signs weren’t good for the Blues who looked nothing like the front-foot, determined outfit they had been in the second half against the Gunners. Instead, it was all Palace. Where Benitez has bemoaned that he doesn’t have the personnel to institute a possession game at Everton, Patrick Vieira has got a collection of inferior players playing some fairly attractive and effective football which would have resulted in them taking an early lead had it not been for Jordan Pickford who made a smart save with his foot to deny Andre Ayew his first goal in more than a year.Gallagher then fired narrowly over and Pickford saved from Wilfried Zaha as Palace continued to exploit all the room Everton were giving them in the final third of the field.Gray briefly came to life in the 16th minute when, following some tidy football against the touchline, he tested Guaita with a low shot and then repeated the feat just past the hour mark with the same result but, in between, the hosts had seen an effort by Marc Guehi deflect wide after the visitors failed to clear a corner.Perhaps the best effort from Everton came 13 minutes before the half-time interval when Godfrey, the epitome of the drive and desire that was missing from the Toffees’ collective display, powered down the left and crossed low but Gomes’s volleyed shot was too close to the keeper who made the save.Despite their torpor, Everton were heading to the interval level before Gray pressed the self-destruct button. In trying to knock the ball back to Seamus Coleman to clear, the winger handed it straight to Ayew who cut it back to the unmarked Gallagher to sweep it past Pickford.Whatever Benitez said in the dressing room at the break appeared to have very little effect as there wasn’t much improvement from the Toffees and it was Palace who might have scored again when Zaha picked Gallagher out with a 50th-minute cross from the left but his header dropped narrowly wide of the back post.Five minutes later, Ayew scooped a clever ball into Gallagher’s path and he rattled a shot into the side-netting as the Eagles continued to threaten while Benitez undercut his options going forward at the other end with the withdrawal of Richarlison.The Brazilian had been troubled by a knock to his calf in the first half but looked to have run it off successfully by the second period. Nevertheless, the way Everton were playing, he having a particularly unproductive afternoon. He wasn’t alone, however; Townsend was equally ineffective but remained on the field while Delph and Richarlison were sacrificed for Gordon and Rondon.Richarlison’s reaction said it all and the response from the travelling fans spoke even louder as they broke into chants in support of their Talisman and the most derogatory ones yet aimed at Benitez and his Liverpool connections.Within four minutes, Palace were 2-0 up. Once again, Benitez’s defence failed to deal with a corner and James Tomkins was on hand to score his first goal in two years to effectively put the contest past the sorry Blues.A rare foray into the box by Doucouré ended with his shot deflecting kindly into Rondon’s path and the substitute just had to bundle the loose ball home from close range to give Everton hope with 20 minutes to go.With better finishing, Benitez’s players might have spared him the criticism that will no doubt carry forward to Thursday’s trip to Chelsea but after more excellent work by Godfrey down the left and Rondon’s lay-off, Townsend fired a shot into a defender with Gordon open to his right.Then Gordon himself found open grass to surge into and drove all the way into the Palace box but his low shot searching out the bottom corner was saved superbly by Guaita.In between, Christian Benteke had almost found Ayew with a centre from the byline but Everton’s misery was completed in stoppage time following another pair of blunders by their own players, both of them experienced pros. Coleman tried to blast a free-kick near his own corner flag into an opposition player in order to make a point but instead gave it straight to Palace. The ball rebounded to Gomes on the edge of the area but he couldn’t retain it and Gallagher profited, lining up a shot from 18 yards that he whipped impressively into the top corner to make it 3-1. The seal set on another miserable afternoon for the Evertonians who made the 500-mile round-trip from Merseyside for no reward.If you’re going to set out to be passive, pragmatic and defensively-minded away from home with an eye on playing counter-attacking football, you have to be compact, disciplined and defend properly. You also have to be able to attack effectively in transition. Too often today (and for most of the campaign, really) Everton were none of those things and by the time they were making inroads into Palace’s defence — an hour too late — they were already 2-0 down.That inability to start games strong — any game, it seems — is a criticism that can be levelled at the players for only so long before it’s symptomatic of an unadventurous, uninspiring manager employing archaic tactics and bringing none of the attributes expected of him to the table. The problem for Benitez is there doesn’t appear to be any introspection or desire to change; it’s never his fault so there’s no accountability. He defended his decision to take Richarlison off by saying that “it was obvious he was not at the level we were expecting [because of his calf]. He wasn’t doing much in the second half,” but neither was anyone else up to that point which left the Brazilian isolated. It was clear that Richarlison felt he could carry on playing but only he and the medical staff will know the extent of his injury and how much of a risk it would have been to keep him on and take the disappointing Townsend off instead.Regardless, the player wasn’t happy with being withdrawn and Benitez complained that “it wasn't helping with the arms,” a reference to Richarlison’s reaction to the decision. Time will tell how he reacts but with Digne already being ostracised, it doesn’t bode well for the dressing room if the manager is losing another player.What’s worse, of course, is that he is clearly losing the tolerance and patience of the fans which, once lost, usually means it's curtains for the head coach. With the danger of getting sucked into the bottom three still looming in the background and Everton undeniably in relegation form, that’s the last thing the club needs. How bad will results have to get – how toxic will the atmosphere among supporters have to get – before Moshiri acts? Lyndon Lloyd top Matchday Updates Horrible tactics from Benitez saw Everton trying to defend from the off against a lively Palace side, conceding before halftime, and only playing forward after making subs on the hour mark; but they ended up gifting goals and throwing the game away.. Gordon lost his starting place while Holgate, Delph and Gomes started. Rondon and Iwobi were thankfully only on the bench. Allan and Digne were not involved. Davies, Mina and Calvert-Lewin were also out injured. Everton kicked off in their Spurs kit and got the ball forward down the right but only for a goal-kick. Conor Gallagher looked to lay down an early marker with this run but Gray replied with a better run on that side, winning an early corner as Gomes took a smack in the face. Palace had a bit more of the play, Delph helping with a foul on Zaha. And Jordan Ayew got through but Pickford was the last man and saved well with his legs. Something of a warning for the travellers. Palace advanced again but launched it behind as Everton tried to keep their shape. Richarlison gave up a free-kick and Gallagher ran across the top of the box to fire just over. Edouard then got a chance to shoot after a good cross from the Palace right but Pickford was in his way. Palace attacked again and Godfrey needed to clear the ball out. Richarlison rather unfairly was penalized again, this time closer to the Everton goal, with Gallagher spooning it straight to Pickford. Gray inspired some decent play down the left then cut in for the first Everton shot at goal, easy for Guaita to collect. Palace were having more than the lion's share of possession but Gomes did get a forward run but his ball out to Townsend was difficult. Delph tried the same and was easily robbed. If the early game plan was to let Palace blow themselves out, then it was at least partially successful, Benitez's charges having soaked up the early pressure from the home side without really responding. Delph and Zaha got a talking to after a silly bout of shoving. Zaha forced a corner off Coleman and it was a dog's dinner in the Everton box, eventually deflected wide. The next Palace corner was cleared but Everton did not advance the ball effectively. Still, Palace were not making any progress either against a disciplined Everton rearguard. Gray fairly skipped down the wing, cut inside, but shot again straight at Guaita. Then a great run by Godfrey and super cross but Gomes could only turn it into Guaita's hands again. At least the game was now being played in the Palace half, but still no really meaningful attempts on goal. Godfrey and Gray combined well again down the left but Ward tackled Godfrey well. Godfrey then returned the play with an excellent tackle on Ayew but they won another corner, taken by Hughes, defended well by Everton. But all of a sudden, when Everton should have cleared their lines, a ridiculous ball from last week's hero Gray to Ayew saw him pass it to Gallagher who finished easily past Pickford. Oh dear, what an absolutely dreadful gifted goal. It got a little more spicey after that, Holgate clashing with Ayew and then Doucouré being fouled. But nothing came of the disorganized attack. But Everton won another free-kick without really pressing home any goal threat from it. An annoying scoreline, no doubt, for Rafa Benitez, who may now have to rethink things and crank up the Everton attack for the second half. But this is the epitome of conservative pragmatic game-management from the wiley old dog... Ironically, the last time Palace beat Everton was... 27 years ago!!! Oh lordy. The game resumed and a wicked cross whipped in by Ayew suggested nothing had been learnt from the first half. Everton's attempt to play out from the back was simply pathetic, and Palace threatened again, Gallagher heading just wide. Everton seemed to have no match for the home side's determination to get on the ball and use it effectively. A simple ball into the Everton area caused total havoc as Keane walked underneath it. The name of the game seemed to be "Let's see how we can set Palace up for their next goal?" But DOucoure had a decent run that looked to be more promising than it turned out as Everton finally started to play the ball to each other, but they weren't winning the 50-50s and seemed all too happy to invite Palace to attack. Another corner after Gallagher's shot from a narrow angle skimmed off the head of Holgate. The Benitez masterstroke to win the game was a double change, Rondon and Gordon for Delph and Richarlison... utterly astounding for the traveling fans, and those at home now hiding behind the sofa. Holgate was immediately humbled by Zaha but recovered to push him to the byeline. Hughes then took out Gray. His free-kick was shockingly poor, totally overhit. Palace went up the other end and won yet another corner and it was an utter clusterfuck at the far post Tompkins poking it past Pickford. Utterly pathetic for the entire Everton team. Everton tried to attack but it was also pathetic, Gomes saw his lazy shot blocked and the ball sent back to Pickford. Gordon at least tried to play forward but the quality was poor; however, he did win a corner that was easily defended. Gray was fouled outside the Palace box, setting up a free-kick, but what would Everton do with it? Gray curled it over the angle. There was s messy scramble forward and guess what! Rondon Scored!!! A fantastic goal from 1 yard!!! Doucouré was called for a foul and went mad when Madely booked him after a series of infractions trying to stop Ayew. A wonderful flowing move started by Doucoure at the back but Townsend's shot was blocked narrowly wide. Zaha then got aggressive with Townsend, but the free-kick was defended, Gray was next in the book after Ayew leapt up in the air, feeling a boot on his ankle. Everton had responded well but Palace won a couple of corners as they pushed the visitors back, the game much more of a contest than it had been. But time was running out, although Everton had at least reclaimed the momentum. But each clash saw a Palace player writhing and was met with screams from the Selhurst Park mob. Could Everton maintain the pressure? Ward on Gray, Godfrey on Gallagher... it was getting even more spicey. Everton kept pressing, but then Ayew and Benteke broke and looked like scoring a third but it was blocked. Gordon getting free but his shot was so, so poor, so easily saved. Gordon seemed to have taken total responsibility for winning the game but his crosses weren't smart enough. Benteke went in very heavily on Coleman, then pulled back Gray, but no punishment. Everton tried to create something on the left this time but it was laboured and eventually broke down as 90 minutes clicked up, and Everton's chance had surely gone. Into 5 minutes of added time but the pendulum, was swinging inexorably Palace's way. You can't expect to win a Premier League game when you only play for 30 of the 90 minutes. Terrible tactics and game management from Benitez, whose negativity is abject and thoroughly counterproductive. And that was underlined in fine style by Connor Gallagher after another dreadful clearance by Coleman, a superb strike in off the bar, and Everton's game plan torn to utter shreds. Scorers: Gallagher (42'); Tompkins; Rondon (70') Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Mitchell (90+1' Clyne), Tomkins, Guehi, Kouyate, Ayew, Zaha, Hughes (74' Benteke), Edouard (74' Schlupp), Gallagher. Subs: Butland, Olise, Eze, Mateta, Kelly, Riedewald. Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Holgate, Godfrey, Delph (58' Gordon), Doucouré [Y:73'], Gomes, Townsend, Gray, Richarlison (59' Rondon). Subs: Begovic, Kenny, Iwobi, Gbamin, Branthwaite, Simms, Onyango. Referee: Andy MadleyVAR: Stuart Attwell Michael Kenrick top Match Preview Updated Everton head south this weekend to face Crystal Palace for what is the first of three games in the space of seven days, two of which are in the Capital, with Lucas Digne set to be excluded again. The Blues should travel in good heart following their rousing victory over Arsenal on Monday, one that arrested a horrible run of one win in 11 and six defeats in seven and moved them up to 12 the Premier League table. Having alleviated the immediate danger of getting sucked into the bottom three, Rafael Benitez's side now need to prove they can press home their quality on a regular basis and, hopefully, push themselves into the reckoning for Europe over the second half of the campaign. If nothing else, the dramatic win over the Gunners leaves the players and manager with few excuses over what they're capable of and what works in terms of formation and personnel; they now need to show they can do it without the impetus of a raucous Goodison crowd. That intensity and drive has been missing from too many performances in recent weeks but the travelling Blues will be in full voice as always and hopeful of spurring Everton on to what would be their first successive win since mid-September and only the second one away from home this season. The biggest talking point coming into the match will be the situation regarding Lucas Digne who was left out of the squad that faced Arsenal and wasn't in the party that travelled to London this weekend amid reports that he and Benitez had had a falling out over his role in the team. The player himself urged fans "not to believe everything you read" on social media earlier this week but, when pressed on the matter during his pre-match press conference, Benitez hinted that there might have been some truth to the reports and the Frenchman's contained absence only adds more fuel to the speculation. “[Digne] has been training. It's a normal situation. We will see tomorrow if he is available or not. "We need all the players around because that increases competition in the team. At the same time, everybody needs to be focused and they have to realise that the priority is the team, that's it." Ben Godfrey performed admirably in his stead and, while seeing Digne restored to the squad this weekend would have been a welcome sight, it wouldn't have been a surprise if Godfrey were to keep his place. Much might have depended on Benitez's faith in Mason Holgate at centre-half given that Yerry Mina won't be available for Sunday's clash but the Yorkshireman is set to keep his place. The Colombian made a much-anticipated return to action from a hamstring issue of his own on Monday night against Arsenal but lasted just half-an-hour before picking up what Rafael Benitez reported afterwards to be a calf injury. That put Mina back in the treatment room and it is unclear at the moment when he might be able to resume training. Salomon Rondon, meanwhile, is expected to be fit again after recovering from a hamstring strain. He had to come off during the second half of the Merseyside derby 9 days ago but his manager indicated during his pre-match press conference at Finch Farm today that the Venezuelan is in contention for a place in the side. Tom Davies is ruled out while Dominic Calvert-Lewin continues his patient rehabilitation work that the club's medical staff hope will see him back in the side before the end of the year. Allan is a slight doubt for Sunday after only doing a partial session following his exertions against Arsenal in the Blues' 2-1 win. Between October and November, Palace went on a seven-match unbeaten run, including that 2-0 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad, that suggested Patrick Vieira had got his arms around his new job and was capable of leading the south London side to a possible tilt at Europe. Their form has fallen away a bit since, however, and they have lost their last three, scoring just one goal. Palace are always a difficult proposition in front of their boisterous fans but Everton will be heartened by the fact that they haven't lost at Selhurst Park since the Eagles returned to the top flight eight years ago. The key for the Toffees will be who lines up in central midfield and, possibly, whether Benitez opts for a midfield three over the two that was so ineffective at Brentford in their last away game. Allan's fitness may be a concern but, with André Gomes and Fabian Delph available, the manager has options at his disposal. Kick-off: 4:30pm, Sunday 12 December 2021 on Sky SportsReferee:Andy MadleyVAR: Stuart AttwellPredicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Holgate, Keane, Godfrey, Allan, Doucouré, Townsend, Gordon, Gray, Richarlison Lyndon Lloyd top * Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.