A far from dull game saw Everton twice fight back from a goal behind to earn a valuable point thanks a Leighton Baines penalty and another vital strike from leading scorer Oumar Niasse.
Everton travelled south to Selhurst Park in search of their first away win in the Premier League since the corresponding fixture last season when a late Seamus Coleman strike secured three points.
For the home side, the much travelled and equally much maligned Roy Hodgson resisted the temptation to include fit again Christian Benteke and selected his starting eleven thus: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Sakho, Schlupp, Loftus-Cheek, Cabaye, Milivojevic, McArthur, Townsend and Zaha.
Still in the caretaker role he seems happy with at present as confirmed by his Friday statements -“No matter how long I am here for, I will give my best. There was never any amount of games or time said to me from the beginning. Nothing has changed. Other people will make the decision on who is going to be the Everton manager, and I will be absolutely fine with that.Be it myself, wonderful. If not, I will shake the hand of whoever it is and wish them all the best because I want them to win and succeed, because I want this club to succeed.” – David Unsworth selected a 4-2-3-1 starting line-up of: Pickford, Baines, Keane, Jagielka (c), Kenny, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Lookman, Sigurdsson, Lennon and Niasse.
In charge of proceedings was referee Anthony Taylor.
A quite disastrous start to the game saw Palace ahead after just 48 seconds as Cabaye found Loftus-Cheek on the right and his shot was only parried by Pickford with McArthur on the spot to ram home the loose ball.
Everton were rattled, the Selhurst Park crowd joyous, but it didn’t last long as the Blues dug deep quickly and sheer persistence from Niasse put Dann under pressure and the referee quite kindly adjudged the Palace defender to have transgressed and pointed to the spot. Up stepped penalty king Leighton Baines and Speroni was consummately beaten with just six minutes played.
Everton calmed things down and were beginning to get slightly the better of things although Palace looked dangerous on the break through the pace of Townsend and Zaha and it was this combination that saw the home side regain the lead on 35 minutes as a cross from Townsend across the six-yard box was gleefully met by Zaha for 2-1.
Once again, Everton needed to dig deep but with half time beckoning, Sigurdsson found Oumar Niasse on the edge of the box and his powerful right foot shot to the bottom corner flashed beyond the despairing reach of Speroni to send the teams to the dressing room tied at two apiece.
Introducing the Everton Mishmash!
Half Time: 2-2
David Unsworth made changes for the second session sending Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin on with Lookman and Schneiderlin the unlucky ones taking the early shower.
DCL, set up by Sigurdsson, had an early chance to put the Blues ahead, but his effort was saved by Speroni. The game was becoming a bit staccato with a constant trickle of free kicks disrupting any real flow although Palace were enjoying slightly the better of it winning three corners early in the second half. The nearest they came was a Dann header that went high and wide.
Former RS Sakho became the fourth player to be booked just past the hour mark for a poor challenge – Milivojevic, Niasse and Keane all having had their names taken in the first half and Tom Davies wasn’t long in joining him on a yellow card for a rather impetuous foul on Loftus-Cheek that saw him require treatment.
Everton failed to make the most of two quick corners before Benteke joined the action on 75 minutes replacing McArthur, with Sandro Ramirez quickly coming on to replace the tiring Aaron Lennon.
Palace were now trying to force the issue and the Everton midfield and defence were working overtime keeping them at bay, desperate to retain the point they’d worked hard to salvage.
And they could have nicked all three had Sandro Ramirez done better with a late header that went high and wide from a Jonjoe Kenny right flank cross.
Pickford made late saves to deny Benteke and Milivojevic and referee Taylor blew for time after four minutes of extras.