Allardyce back to winning ways as Everton beat Palce

Gylfi Sigurdsson scored Everton's fisrt goal against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park
Gylfi Sigurdsson scored Everton’s fisrt goal against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park

Everton profited from their quick-fire start to the second half to beat Crystal Palace and earn just a second win in nine league games.

The Toffees edged a competitive first 45 minutes but nearly went behind in added time when Christian Benteke headed the best chance of the half wide.


Deal of the day

After the break, however, the home side added end-product to their endeavour, with Gylfi Sigurdsson firing home via a deflection within a minute of the restart and Oumar Niasse heading in a Cuco Martina cross.

It changed the mood at Goodison Park and Everton’s confidence level grew as they dictated terms, culminating in Tom Davies turning in his third goal for the club from six yards.

Everton boss Sam Allardyce will still come away with some concerns after he lost two of his back four during the game, Seamus Coleman and Eliaquim Mangala going off injured.

But even facing a rejigged back four, Palace could not land a significant blow when it mattered, with both Benteke and debutant Alexander Sorloth going close with headers at 2-0.

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Luka Milivojevic converted a late penalty when Ashley Williams handled in the area but Palace deserved little more and now sit 14th, two points above the relegation zone.

Fine response to ‘pathetic’ defeat

Allardyce called his side “pathetic” after last week’s 5-1 defeat at Arsenal, a loss which had some fans calling for him to be sacked after less than three months at the club.

This display though showed the sort of desire more likely to strengthen his position.

Oumar Niasse added a second for Everton at Goodison Park

Allardyce’s impact at half-time was clear. He was seen demanding that his side get the ball forward more quickly shortly before the interval and their opening goal arrived when goalkeeper Jordan Pickford sent a long ball upfield after the break.

Niasse fought for the scraps – as Everton did all day – allowing Sigurdsson to drill home. The midfielder has 17 goals from outside the box since he arrived in the league in 2012 – more than any other player.

Sigurdsson played alongside Theo Walcott and Davies in supporting Niasse in a 4-2-3-1 formation as Wayne Rooney sat in a deep role alongside Idrissa Gueye.

Rooney’s intelligence in the role was evident throughout as he used the ball smartly, while Walcott’s pace is undiminished and he saw more of the ball than any home player, with 64 touches.

The loss of Mangala and Coleman aside, this was a wholly positive day at the end of a tricky week. Every player in a blue shirt contributed admirably and the Toffees are up to ninth.

Lack of adventure from Palace

This was the first Premier League fixture to pit two former England managers against one another since the late Bobby Robson’s Newcastle took on Kevin Keegan’s Manchester City in 2004.

And while it was Palace boss Roy Hodgson who arrived with momentum – just two defeats in 15 league games – his side never looked keen on taking risks.

Sorloth – signed for £9m from Danish side FC Midtjylland – was used up front but when Palace lost the ball he was asked to track back down the left flank, creating a 4-5-1 formation when out of possession.

Sorloth applied himself to the task and made more tackles than anyone in the away side. But his role meant Benteke was isolated and the Belgian’s two headed misses – one with the game goalless and one when 2-0 down – were crucial.

BBC Radio 5 live pundit Pat Nevin described the second effort as a “very bad miss” but it was hard to see Palace taking anything from the game.

There was simply not enough adventure about them against opponents who came into the fixture under scrutiny from their own recent failings.

A two-point cushion on the bottom three looks a slim margin as the Eagles’ next five games see them face Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea, Huddersfield and Liverpool.