Everton 3-1 Palace
Injury-hit Crystal Palace slipped to defeat for the first time at Goodison Park since 2005. Two goals in the first six minutes of the second half from the hosts gave the Eagles an uphill battle that proved too big for the misfiring front line.
Roy Hodgson's men had by far the best of the first half. Christian Benteke nearly intercepted a short back pass to Jordan Pickford early on, but his harrying effort was enough to force the Everton stopper into a poor clearance. The ball dropped to Yohan Cabaye who attempted a lob from 45 yards, but the Frenchman’s effort lacked conviction.
Alexander Sørloth was making his debut for the visitors and the Norwegian impressed. The big centre-forward was too strong for Mangala out wide before driving into the area, his show was blocked and the ball eventually found its way to Luka Milivojevic but his left-footed drive was deflected wide.
Wayne Hennessey had to be at his best to deny Idrissa Gana Gueye low to his right and Gylfi Sigurðsson and Wayne Rooney both wasted free kicks from central areas, but Sam Allardyce’s men offered little in advance areas during the first period.
Benteke had the ball in the net towards the end of the half after fairly forcing Pickford into dropping a cross into his goal only for the Belgium international to be correctly flagged offside. Shortly after the first big chance of the game fell to Benteke as an inch-perfect cross from Sørloth found the head of the goal-shy striker and his header evaded the sliding James McArthur and passed the wrong side of the far post.
Crystal Palace fans were shocked to hear that Mamadou Sakho was missing from the squad and this meant that Timothy Fosu-Mensah moved into centre back, with Joel Ward returning at right back. The forced changed ultimately cost Palace a result. A long Pickford clearance was just intercepted by James Tomkins but his header spurned upwards and Fosu-Mensah was slow to react allowing Sigurðsson to pick up the ball and fire an effort goalwards. Hennessey might have had a chance of saving before a despairing slide from Tomkins deflected the ball into the bottom corner.
The second goal promptly followed, this time aided by a slice of luck for the Toffees. Milivojevic tackled Tom Davies only for the ball to ricochet favourably for the hosts. Gueye picked up the ball and crossed for Omur Niasse and the man that Palace almost signed in August scored past them for the second time this season. It has to be said that Patrick van Aanholt needs to take a long hard look at his positioning which allowed Niasse to head home unchallenged.
The response was good and Benteke had yet another golden chance to score. A delightful ball from Cabaye allowed Benteke to pin the diminutive Kenny in the Everton backline and with Pickford in no man’s land, he just had to direct the header on target. The ball missed the far post by a centimetre.
Sørloth then had the opportunity to cap his fine debut with a goal when he got onto the end of a van Aanholt cross. His header was powerful but at a good height for the keeper to parry.
The killer third goal came on 75 minutes and Fosu-Mensah was once again at fault. This time his attempted clearance fell straight to Kenny who found Niasse in the middle. Hennessey did well to save the deflected shot that followed, but the ball stayed in play from his stop and Davies had the simple task of tapping home after a cutback.
A late consolation would come via a Milivojevic penalty, the Serbian’s seventh strike of the season after a goal-bound Benteke volley was blocked by the raised arm of Ashley Williams. If Williams had not blocked the ball the goal would have been the first from Benteke’s foot since he scored in front of the Kop way back in April 2017 – 27 league appearances ago.
Man of the Match: Alexander Sørloth
I am extremely relieved that he looks decent. He is aggressive, technically good and an absolute unit. For the rest of this season, get Wilf and Andros wide and put crosses in the box and score headers. Make it a simple game.
Up Next: Spurs
Over two weeks off is exactly what we need. Hopefully, we will get some players back up and running and try to be competitive in this tough run of games. After pretty much every result going against us this weekend, we must try and produce a shock result from somewhere.
Come on you Palace.