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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Goodison Park

Palace implode as Everton fight back from 2-0 down to secure three points and safety

Crystal Palace slipped to a 3-2 defeat after leading by two goals against Everton on Thursday night.

Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew scored twice inside 15 minutes to put Patrick Vieira’s flamboyant Eaglesn in command.

But the Toffees had another spring in their steps following Dele Alli’s introduction after the break as Michael Keane, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin completed a shock remuntada which guaranteed the club’s safety.

Everton were all but down at half-time. But safe at the final whistle after battling back from 2-0 down to see Crystal Palace off 3-2.

It will now be an affair between Burnley and Leeds United on Sunday afternoon to decide who follows Watford and Norwich down to the Championship.

Frank Lampard’s men went from lethargic to energetic, from dead and buried to walking on water. From agony to ecstasy. From a potential first relegation in 71 years and key players departing to an ambitious rebuild this summer and their best players very likely staying put.

But Crystal were not in a charitable mood and pushed Everton hard in the first-half.

Six minutes after kick-off, Richarlison saw his free-kick glance off the top of the crossbar as the Toffees looked to lay down an early marker and settle some nerves.

But despite the Toffees’ unquestionable spirit and vigour, Eberechi Eze found Mateta at the far post and the Frenchman made no mistake with a well-executed header.

Five minutes later Keane made a vital headed interception to deny Mateta, lurking in behind, his second goal.

Everton’s defence crumbled and Ayew doubled Palace’s advantage with his neck as Jordan Pickford made a hash of pushing Wilfried Zaha’s sliced shot sufficiently wide before both Abdoulaye Doucoure and Vitaliy Mykolenko failed to clear their lines as the ball rolled in.

All of a sudden Everton’s world was falling apart. The second-best Evertonians, who had started well, failed to carry a threat going forward while Palace stretched them at will through central areas.

In the latter stages of the first-half Andre Gomes tried his luck from distance but Jack Butland was equal to it.

The hegemonic Eagles did well to transition quickly and create several good moments in the first-half while pressure really annihilated Everton as safety was now on the line.

But the side returning from the dressing room, boosted by Alli’s presence on the pitch, started to play as if their existence depended on it.

And they immediately pulled one back through Keane who kept his composure to fire a left-footed volley into the back of the net following Mason Holgate’s flick-on.

Pickford then played a big part in keeping his side in the game, repelling Mateta from six yards out with a brilliant reflex save.

And while Palace tired and lost their way in the second period, Everton looked increasingly comfortable on the ball and assured off it.

Richarlison equalised with a fine effort before Calvert-Lewin headed Everton into a precious 3-2 lead, putting an end to a turbulent season.


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