Everton 1-1 Palace
Crystal Palace remained unbeaten at Goodison Park since returning to the Premier League in 2013 as Christian Benteke’s towering second-half head earned a point for the Eagles – but it could have been all three points for Alan Pardew’s men.
Six minutes after the Belgium’s leveller, Damien Delaney headed home a recycled corner only for the linesman to incorrectly rule out the goal for offside.
The hosts were the better side in the first period and might have been facing ten men after just fourteen minutes. Bryan Oviedo crept in behind the Palace defence and the last man, Damien Delaney, flattened the Everton number twenty. Fortunately for the visitors, the linesman raised his flag, rendering the inevitable penalty and red card void. The Irishman’s sly grin spoke of his relief.
Delaney was in the thick of the action again in the 34th minute when he attempted to clear a high ball with his left foot. The Palace centre-back missed the ball and Phil Jagielka, but referee Jonathan Moss awarded the free-kick on the edge of the Palace penalty area. Replays showed that Jagielka handled the ball in the process. Romelu Lukaku whipped the free-kick over the wall and in the back of the net to open the scoring, much to the disgust of Steve Mandanda in the Palace goal who berated his wall for not jumping. However, considering that the free-kick should have been an indirect one was Delaney had not touched Jagielka, the French stopper should have picked the ball out of the net and taken a goal kick.
Palace were far more competitive in the second half and Benteke’s equaliser five minutes after the restart kick-started a second half performance that suggested that Pardew’s “transition” might be happening a little quicker than he may have expected.
Both sides missed opportunities to score a second goal. Martin Kelly blocked a goal-bound Idrissa Gana Gueye effort, and James Tomkins failed to beat Maarten Stekelenburg with a close-range header.
At one point in the second half, Benteke pulled the ball out of the air on his chest while under pressure from behind and then lifted the ball over another Everton defender before spreading the ball wide and setting us away on another attack. I turned to my friend Carl and asked; “did we used to think that we had good strikers?” “I feel bad as I like Connor Wickham, but he is on a different planet.”
After just four games I think that I can comfortably say that Benteke is the most complete striker that I have seen in the 22 years that I have been going to Palace.
When Joel Ward crossed towards the big Belgium, who had brilliantly peeled off onto the shorter full-back Seamus Coleman, there was only one outcome. Alan Smith was commentating on the game and waxed lyrical about the header, and Jermaine Jenas was equally as complimentary on Match of the Day. Nine times out of ten, watching him challenge for a header is like watching a fully grown adult go up against a small child. It is beautiful to watch.
Big Ben has now scored three goals for Palace, all with his head. This "bullet header" took his tally of headed goals in the Premier League to 19 – only Olivier Giroud has as many as him since the start of the 2012/13 season. When you factor in that he was injured for six months and spent a season at Liverpool in which they never crossed the ball to him – it is quite the feat. If he can stay fit this season, I would find it hard to argue against him scoring twenty goals.
For the opening few minutes of the match, I was worried. A couple of times he put in sumptuous balls into the area, but they were thankfully too good for the strikers as well as the defenders.
Then, for a period, Yala moved up alongside Lukaku and tried to go head to head against Delaney. The pair then competed for a 50/50 and Bolasie seemed to decide that he didn’t fancy it and moved back out wide.
This was when Joel Ward took over.
We spoke on the Holmesdale Radio Preview Podcast about whether or not Ward and Kelly would have the inside track on Bolasie and would, as a result, know how to defend against him – it turns out that they did.
Ward put Yannick in his back pocket, and we can only hope that he remembered to take him out of his pocket before leaving Merseyside for fear of then asking for the £25m back.
In the second half, frustration started to seep into the DR Congo international and he took it out on Wardy – showing that the Palace full-back, who was having his best game for at least a year, had won the battle. In the end, Bolasie was lucky to last the 90 minutes as he perhaps should have picked up a yellow card before his poorly timed lunge on Ward towards the end of the match earned him a yellow card.
I was sad to hear some Palace fans booing Yannick. As a once a season treat, I was sat in the Directors Box for the match (don’t judge me) and had to ask fans later in the night if Bolasie had done anything to deserve the booing on the night and the answer was always “no.” None of us wanted him to leave and yes it irks that he so clearly wanted a move away – but he did enough for us in his four years to earn more respect than being booed.
We all rejoiced when Mark Clattenburg pulled out of the game injured, but it came back to bite us as his replacement Jonathan Moss was atrocious on the night.
The awarding of the free-kick is not what makes me mad. Delaney’s foot is high, and it can be argued that Jagielka had raised his hands to protect his face - the handball was a result of the protective measure that the centre-back had taken. However, to miss that it should have been an indirect free-kick is beyond poor. Being a referee is a full-time profession now. If any of us made such a fundamental error in our job, we would be laughed at by our employers as they handed us our p45’s. That won’t happen to Moss. If that didn’t occur when he awarded a penalty against us to Manchester United when it was five yards outside of the penalty area, it is never going to happen.
The disallowed Delaney goal means that the linesman is just as culpable, but Moss went over and talked to him and they have come to the wrong conclusion. Yes, James McArthur makes a move towards the ball, but the rule clearly states that the movement has to interfere with an opposing player. It does not. Stekelenburg was beaten all ends up, and even Ronald Koeman said that the goal should have stood.
Unsurprisingly on Match of the Day, Alan Shearer stated that he believes the officials got the decision correct by incorrectly quoting laws of the game. Even as a centre-forward Shearer couldn’t bring himself to praise the Benteke header. The man clearly has something against our Club.
Man of the Match: Joel Ward
As mentioned above, this was his best performance for well over a year. He assisted the goal, and the disallowed goal, and spent the entire evening getting forward while still be able to contain Bolasie.
Build on it now, Joel!
Up Next: West Ham
Hopefully, West Ham will come out of the international break as poorly as they have gone into it. Time will tell, but it currently feels like a missed opportunity having to play them in two weeks, when Slaven Bilic's men will have had a chance to recoup, as opposed to now when they are awful. After consecutive 3-1 defeats at Selhurst against the Hammers, it is about time that we reclaimed our home against them.
Come on you Palace!