Everton ensure survival with incredible second-half comeback

Thursday, 19 May, 2022 0comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 3 - 2 Crystal Palace

Everton completed a quite remarkable turnaround in front of another incredible Goodison Park crowd to come back from two goals down and beat Crystal Palace, finally securing their Premier League safety.

At half-time and 2-0 down, Frank Lampard's side were staring in the face a nervy and potentially catastrophic final day of the campaign on Sunday at Arsenal and the prospect of relying on results elsewhere.

However, on a night reminiscent of that iconic comeback against Wimbledon in 1994 that saved the club from relegation on the final day of the season, the Blues, inspired by the half-time introduction of Dele Alli, rallied in the second half, dragging themselves back to 2-2 thanks to goals by Michael Keane and Richarlison.

Then Dominic Calvert-Lewin, largely a bit-part contributor since August because of a serious thigh injury, delivered the goal that guaranteed Everton top-flight football next season with a terrific diving header that sparked bedlam in an electric Old Lady.

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It was a conclusion that looked implausible once Palace had established their two-goal advantage after 36 minutes thanks to goals by Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew. The latter was fortunate to have still been on the pitch following an ugly, red card-worthy challenge on Anthony Gordon as yet more incomprehensible officiating seemed destined to cost Everton dear.

Everton had started in the frenetic and adrenaline-charged fashion that has characterised their performances recently under Frank Lampard while the visitors were playing the more measured passing football.

It was the hosts who almost drew first blood, though, after a quarter of an hour when Richarlison lined up a direct free-kick after a foul by Joachim Andersen and from 25 yards out the Brazilian clipped the top of the crossbar with a sweeping effort.

Five minutes later, though, it was 1-0 to Patrick Vieira's side and it came in all-too familiar circumstances for Everton's supporters. André Gomes was deemed to have fouled Jeffrey Schlupp on Palace's left flank and when Eberechi Eze swung the resulting free-kick into the box, Mateta easily got in front of his marker to plant a header past Jordan Pickford from a central position in front of goal.

Vitalii Mykolenko had a decent opportunity at the far post in front of the Park End when he arrived to meet Seamus Coleman's clipped cross but he couldn't steer his volley on target and Richarlison's tame effort was saved by Jack Butland before Ayew ignited howls of protest from the Goodison crowd with a horrible tackle on Gordon that only resulted in a yellow card.

And just two minutes later, the Ghanaian doubled Palace's lead amid calamitous defending from Everton. Pickford only parried Mateta's cross away from goal out to Wilfried Zaha and then got a hand to the Ivorian's bouncing first-time shot but the ball fell to Ayew's head and he bundled it over the line as Mykolenko desperately tried to keep it from going it.

Gomes had once again struggled in a midfield that was being overrun at times by Vieira's men but a chance opened up for him from 25 yards out only for him to slip as he pulled the trigger and Butland was able to gather comfortably. Richarlison then went close with the last chance of the half as his header looped narrowly wide before an edgy Goodison contemplated the ramifications for the relegation battle of Burnley's goal at Aston Villa in the 8 o' clock kick-off at Villa Park.

Lampard, meanwhile, had already made up his mind to make a decisive and much-needed change by sending Dele out to warm up during the break. The former Spurs man had made sporadic appearances up until now but his impact in the second half was seismic and it was the foul on him that led to Everton pulling a goal back in the 54th minute.

Mykolenko swung in a deep free-kick, Mason Holgate headed it back into the danger area where Michael Keane took a touch before guiding a lovely left-foot finish into the far corner of Butland's goal.

Demarai Gray replaced the willing but tireless Anthony Gordon to re-inject some pace and verve to the Toffees' attack but it was the visitors who temporarily regained the initiative in the contest and it required another match-winning contribution from Pickford to keep Everton in it.

Palace moved the ball swiftly through the lines from back to front and Eze played in Mateta for a clear chance at goal but Pickford had positioned himself superbly to bat the Frenchman's shot behind with a raised glove. From the corner, Schlupp eventually fired straight at the Everton keeper who parried and gathered the ball safely.

Everton regained their footing and after Mykolenko's cross had just eluded Calvert-Lewin, they levelled with 15 minutes of an increasingly bruising contest to go and it came not long after Vieira had introduced the Blues' chief tormentor from the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park.

Coleman turned inside his man and clipped the ball to the back post, Dele's cross-shot was kicked back to Richarlison and the Brazilian dug it out from under his feet before scooping it past Butland.

And then, with five minutes of the regulation 90 to go, Everton completed their amazing recovery after Coleman was dragged down by Zaha, setting up a set-piece for Gray to line up on the Blues' right flank.

The winger arced his free-kick behind the Palace defence and Calvert-Lewin threw himself at the ball, powering a header home, Goodison erupted and a small, ill-advised invasion of the pitch by ecstatic fans ensured that stoppage would stretch beyond seven agonising minutes.

Everton hung on, though, as the home faithful cheered every throw-in and free-kick earned before referee Anthony Taylor blew his whistle and charged towards the tunnel as the stands emptied onto the pitch in unbridled joy at survival achieved.


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