Everton bounced back from their mauling at the Emirates with a hard earned three points over Crystal Palace with Theo Walcott and Gylfi Sigurdsson at the heart of most of their fine second half display.
Two former England managers locked horns on Saturday as Roy Hodgson brought his injury ravaged Palace side to Goodison to battle for three valuable points against Everton under Sam Allardyce.
Following last Saturday’s humiliation at the Emirates, the under pressure Blues boss again made a number of changes to try and find a winning formula. He settled on a starting line-up of: Pickford, Martina, Mangala, Keane, Coleman, Gueye, Davies, Rooney (c), Sigurdsson, Walcott and Niasse.
For the visitors unable to call upon the pace and aggression of Wilfried Zaha, and goalie Julian Speroni, former RS boss Roy Hodgson selected his side: Hennessey, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Ward, van Aanholt, Townsend, Cabaye, Milivojevic (c), McArthur, Sorloth and Benteke.
In charge of proceedings is the ever so popular, especially across the park, Jonathon Moss.
A not very enthralling start to the game on a cold, damp afternoon saw the first half chance fall to the visitors when an underhit back pass by Mangala saw Pickford rush off his line to deny Benteke with Cabaye was unable to find the empty net on the loose ball.
The Blues first chance came when Rooney found Walcott who laid the ball back for Sigurdsson to control, beat the first man and fire his shot inches wide.
Palace had a similar opportunity when the rather large Sorloth beat Mangala to cross for Benteke who header back was crashed goal wards by Milivojevic and deflected wide for a corner.
Mangala with a good ball found Walcott who played the ball inside for Coleman, but the Palace defence stood firm to clear.
Good work by Walcott on 26 mins to get a cross to the back post to win a corner from which the ball was cleared to Gana Gueye whose powerful drive was finger tipped away by Hennessey for another corner.
A decent move just past the half hour mark saw Walcott and Coleman combine to get the ball into the box for Niasse with his effort cleared to Davies who shot was blocked.
A Cabaye shot from distance bounced awkwardly for Pickford who was happy to shovel the ball away for a corner that came to nothing.
Mangala was hurt trying to get his head to another Sigurdsson corner and barely a minute after returning to pitch after treatment, he pulled up in the centre circle clutching his right hamstring.
Ashley Williams duly replaced the Man City loanee and right on the 45 minute mark, Sorloth again crossed for Benteke but he couldn’t direct his header on target.
Half Time: 0-0
A half time substitution saw Jonjoe Kenny replace Seamus Coleman at right back.
And the Blues opened the scoring barely 50 seconds into the half as a long ball from Pickford saw Niasse pressure Tomkins and the ball fell nicely for Sigurdsson who wasted no time in finding the bottom corner of the Gwladys Street net.
The promising start saw Palace threaten briefly before the Blues doubled their lead four minutes later. Sigurdsson collected a ball from Kenny and held the play up while reinforcements arrived. Davies found Martina and his dinked cross was confidently headed home from six yard by Niasse.
Palace fluffed a golden opportunity to reduce arrears when Cabaye found Benteke with a peach of a cross, but the former RS centre forward put his cross goal header wide much to the delight of the home crowd.
Jordan Pickford drew applause on 65 minutes with an acrobatic diving save to deny a powerful header from Sorloth on a left wing cross from van Aanholt.
Walcott was booked for a centre circle collision with Fosu-Mensah.
Everton secured all three points in the 75th minute as Walcott found Kenny, his cross for Niasse saw Hennessey spill the shot and Sigurdsson was on the spot to cut the ball back for Tom Davies to ram home the third goal.
Sam Allardyce made his final change on 80 minutes replacing Gana Gueye, who looked to have taken a knock, with Morgan Schneiderlin who took to the pitch to a chorus of booing.
Ward found van Aanholt for a rising shot that Pickford pushed away for a corner from which the ball pin balled around before referee Moss pointed to the spot for a somewhat harsh hand ball against Williams and Milivojevic converted the penalty despite a terrific effort from Pickford.
With three added on minutes, there were no more significant moments and the final whistle saw a good deal of relief around Goodison after a decent second half.
Full Time: 3-1
Whilst this wasn’t vintage Everton, it was a much needed improvement on recent performances with excellent showings from Theo Walcott, Gylfi Sigurdsson and the ever-willing Oumar Niasse.
A word of praise too for the much maligned Cuco Martina who shackled Andros Townsend well and who played a key part in the all important second goal[tps_title][/tps_title]