Christian Benteke’s second half header cancels out Romelu Lukaku’s opener as Everton drop two points at home to Crystal Palace.

Everton: Stekelenburg, Coleman, Jagielka, Ashley Williams, Oviedo, Cleverley, Barry, Gana, Bolasie, Lukaku, Barkley. Subs: Robles, Mirallas, Lennon, Valencia, Funes Mori, Davies, Holgate.

Crystal Palace: Mandanda, Ward, Tomkins, Delaney, Kelly, McArthur, Ledley, Townsend, Puncheon, Zaha, Christian Benteke. Subs: Flamini, Cabaye, Campbell, Hennessey, Lee, Fryers, Wickham.

Referee: Jon Moss.

Review written by AndyC

Friday night football gave Everton the chance to bounce back from the debacle of Bournemouth and climb back into second place… if they could beat a big and confident Palace.

Everton lined up: Stekelenberg, Oviedo, Williams, Jagielka, Coleman, Barry, Gana Gueye, Cleverley, Barkley, Bolasie and Lukaku.
Palace lined up: Mandanda, Ward, Tomkins, Delaney, Kelly, Ledley, MacArthur, Townsend, Puncheon, Zaha and Benteke.

John Moss replaced Mark Clattenburg as the man with the whistle, but more about him later.

Everton started brightly forcing four corners in the first ten minutes by playing at a higher tempo with both Barkley and Bolasie lively in the opening exchanges and Cleverley looking to move the ball quickly with every touch.

A superb chip forward by Cleverley nearly reaped dividends for the onrushing Oviedo, but he was adjudged offside as he was clattered by a Palace defender. For their part in the opening quarter hour, Palace in the form of the pacy Zaha was causing a right wing threat and Oviedo was first to see yellow on 16 minutes for a foul on the Palace winger.

Mandanda was the first goalie to make save with a comfortable stop from Lukaku however Palace had weathered the early Everton attacks and began to impose themselves more on the game.

Puncheon was booked for a 26th minute foul on Lukaku, but nothing resulted despite the best efforts of Barry and Coleman as they linked well down the right flank.

The next Everton raid saw Lukaku and Jagielka combined with the latter nearly having his head removed and from the resulting free kick just outside the box, Lukaku curled a sweet, perfectly placed shot inside the left hand post on 34 minutes.

Shortly before the interval, Tomkins became the third to be booked as he mouthed off to the ref who obviously took exception to his tone.

One-nil at the break was a fair reflection of the first half which from an Evertonian point of view was a marked improvement upon the previous game without being totally dominant.

Palace, who hadn’t been overawed through the first half, drew level just five minutes into the second stanza as a looping cross to the back post found the head of Benteke and the former RS striker placed an inch perfect header back across goal and well beyond the reach of Stekelenberg for one-one.

Bolasie turned on the after burners to create a cross for Gana Gueye but his effort to restore the home sides lead was denied.

Benteke replicated the mouthing off of Tomkins and ref Moss duly replicated his yellow card waving act.

Everton were a tad fortunate to remain level shortly afterwards as another well placed header, thus time by ?Delaney, beat Stekelenberg only for an eagle-eyed linesman to adjudge another
Palace forward to be offside.

Gueye put a dangerous cross into the Palace area and Bolasie tried the acrobatic overhead kick that sadly went wide… and this was to be practically his last meaningful act as his game went south from this point onwards, resulting in a booking for a challenge on Ward that looked poor. TV review showed he did actually get the ball, not the man, but such was the ineptness of John Moss he booked him anyway.

Back to real time and Townsend finally beat Coleman down the Palace left to hang a cross up at the back post that Benteke should have buried, but mercifully the former RS failed miserably to get any meaningful,contact on the ball.

Two more bookings ensued, firstly Townsend became the third player reprimanded for talking out of turn, and then Barry for a midfield block on Townsend.

Inside the final quarter of the match and it was a very open (and entertaining, if you were a neutral) game with both sides going for the win. Stekelenberg dived to deny Tomkins and Ronald Koeman finally made a change by replacing a somewhat ineffective Barkley with Mirallas.

Gana Gueye was next to see yellow for a foul on Townsend and both sides made changes on 80 mind as RFM replaced Oviedo and Pardew sent Cabaye on for MacArthur.

Time was running out and Coleman was twice unlucky as he strained every sinew trying to find a winner ahead of the Bolasie booking, Lee replacing Townsend and the tiring Cleverley booked for a foul on Zaha.

Final score 1-1 and probably a fair reflection of a game that ended with nine yellow cards and not one bad foul !! John Moss really needs to have a word with himself on this showing.

As previously stated, from a neutral football supporters point of view, this was an entertaining, end-to-end game that ironically saw neither goalie overworked.

From an Evertonian point of view, it was a disappointment after a really bright start and showed we are still very much a work in progress.

If I can offer some thoughts to Ronald Koeman they would be as follows…

Mirallas needs more than 15 minutes if he is to make any notable impact upon a game, he is no ‘super sub’ in the fashion of a David Fairclough.

Cleverley, for all his neat work and quick passing attributes, is never going to be a major influence upon a game. He’s a squad player at best not a game changer in the mould of a Fabregas or even a Mata.

Barkley was marginally better this evening, but still isn’t hitting the heights we all want him to hit. He did win some aerial challenges and he didn’t dither and dally on the ball as much as he has done recently. But he also failed to win any 50-50 challenges and as a consequence, his impact on the game dwindled and his substitution was right, if ten minutes too late to allow Mirallas enough time to get into the game.

Bolasie… the pace, trickery and threat he posed in the first half were largely non-existent in the second half – one cross and the bicycle kick apart – and (for me) he is lacking end product. At £25 million or more, I was hoping that the lad would produce something to genuinely justify that price tag, but as yet I’m not seeing it and remain a tad sceptical that he will. It’s still early days and I hope he proves me wrong.

Finally, my vote for MotM goes to Seamus Coleman. He worked his socks off, both ends of the pitch for the full 94 minutes.
Commendations too for Gareth Barry and Bryan Oviedo who both put the woes of Bournemouth behind them.

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