The Sunday Mail
Everton scored twice in the second half thanks to a piece of brilliance from Richarlison and late opportunism from Dominic Calvert-Lewin to claim a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park and move up to seventh in the Premier League.
After Christian Benteke cancelled out Bernard’s opener with his first Palace goal since April, Brazilian Richarlison picked up the ball on the halfway line, drove into the area and struck an unstoppable shot for his ninth league goal of the season.
Although Palace began promisingly, with Patrick van Aanholt’s scruffy shot hitting the post, Everton went ahead after 18 minutes when Theo Walcott created space to deliver a perfect cross for Bernard’s controlled volley.
That was Walcott’s last meaningful contribution as he soon departed with a jarred knee to be replaced by Djibril Sidibe but only after a curious episode saw the Frenchman briefly disappear down the tunnel, apparently in search of a second sock.
The visitors, who have not won since Boxing Day, struggled to deal with Richarlison’s movement and power but forced their way back into contention when Everton keeper Jordan Pickford somehow allowed Benteke’s shot to roll under his body in the 51st minute to end a goal drought that had lasted 1 476 minutes.
Seven minutes later Richarlison scored while Pickford saved point-blank from Benteke, who also hit the post, before Calvert-Lewin put the game beyond Palace in the 88th when he reacted quickest to net after Richarlison’s header hit the bar.
Everton have 36 points from 26 games, a point behind fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur who currently occupy the Europa League qualifying spot, and five points behind Chelsea in fourth, which brings Champions League football next season.
“The best thing today is the result, the performance was not so good,” said Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, whose team have played a game more than their rivals for the European spots.
“It was a difficult game, a lot of interruptions. We were not able to keep the intensity. Richarlison did a fantastic counter attack and we won for this reason.
“Before the (winter) break, three points is important. We know they have this quality, Richarlison is a fantastic player on the counter attack, he used that situation really well.”
The Italian, who said the bizarre Sidibe incident was a “new experience for me”, stressed that qualifying for Europe was still the club’s target.
“Since I arrived the team did a fantastic job, now we have the possibility to think about the Europa League.”
Palace are in 14th place with 30 points from 26 games, six points above the relegation zone, and have not kept a clean sheet in 10 league games with disappointed manager Roy Hodgson describing their latest defeat as cruel.
“We know what we have to do. When we moved the ball quickly we asked questions and were close to getting more than one goal. The result colours any sort of judgement, so it’s difficult to see the game as clear as you would like.” — Supersport