Everton's Gueye sinks Crystal Palace as no.9 position remains elephant in the room
By Alessandro Schiavone at Selhurst Park
Crystal Palace 2-3 Everton
Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye's 86th minute strike condemned Crystal Palace to a 3-2 home defeat.
Roy Hodgson's hard-working Eagles twice pegged Everton back but when the one-time PSG midfielder converted Abdoulaye Doucoure's crisp pass there was no third way back. That was the knockout punch, morally the final straw. Palace didn't have it in them to go again.
The game was barely one minute old when Jack Harrison's cross found the head of Vitaliy Mykolenko. with the Ukrainian rising above Joel Ward to power a bullet header into the net. It was his second in the space of one week after breaking his duck against Brighton & Hove Albion.
But the disorganized Toffees' lead lasted less than four minutes as Ebere Eze won and converted the equalising penalty.
Two goals inside five minutes, that wasn't in the script was it? Not least because these two sides had got us used to some drab games in the not-so-recent past. Most notably the goalless draw in last season's corresponding fixture.
That said, this highly entertaining fixture couldn't have continued at such a remarkable full-throttle intensity. Hence things settled down.
Dwight McNeil came mighty close to scoring only for his weak volley to end up straight in Sam Johnstone's arms.
Crystal Palace were poor at defending the right flank with Everton concentrating most of their attacks there. So it took an excellent last-ditch interception from Ward to prevent Dominic Calvert-Lewin to re-establish the visitors' lead.
Eze proved once again that he's Palace's electrifying creative force since Wilfried Zaha upped sticks to Turkey. And it's not wrong to say that Hodgson's Eagles heavily depend on him in the same way they over-relied on the man now plying his trade at Galatasaray.
And fresh from signing a new four-year deal, Eze was at the heart anything Palace created in the first half. His telegraphed pass into space for Odsonne Edouard wasn't given the finish it deserved as the Frenchman fired straight at Jordan Pickford.
But it was Everton who scored next as their survival hero Doucouré was on hand to bury the rebound after Mykolenko's confident volley from outside the box bounced off the box and into his path.
It served again as a much-needed wake-up call as Palace began to retake control by stretching Everton to breaking point.
But their strikers' lack of firepower is a well-known elephant in the Selhurst Park room.
Pickford had to be sharp to deny Eze before Edouard took too long to get his shot away when played into space, allowing Jarrad Brantwaithe time to recover.
The excellent Colombian midfielder Jefferson Lerma didn't do much better when he dragged Edouard's cutback wide. Before Michael Olise saw his curling attempt deflected our for a corner.
But just when his striker's instincts appeared to have deserted him, Edouard struck, pouncing on some lack of communication between James Tarkowski and Pickford. He did well to lurk in behind to smash home Lerma's looping header into space.
Yet it didn't last as Everton were gifted space by the retreating Palace defence. Unmarked in the box, Gueye rolled the ball past Johnstone as the Toffees take all three points with them to Goodison Park. If it was deserved remains open to debate. But regardless, Palace just need a goalscorer.
Crystal Palace: 1Johnstone-2Ward-16Andersen-6Guéhi-3Mitchell-19Hughes(Ahamadaat)-8Lerma-9J Ayew 10Eze15Schlupp(Olise) 22Édouard(Mateta)
Everton: 1Pickford-18Young(Patterson)6Tarkowski- 32Branthwaite19Mykolenko-11Harrison- 37Garner- 8Onana(Gueye)-7McNeil-16Doucouré-9Calvert-Lewin(Gomes Betuncal)