Ayew kidding me? Superb Everton comeback secures survival
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 85th-minute header sealed Everton’s top-flight status after a stunning comeback victory over Crystal Palace, winning after facing a two-goal HT deficit for the first time in their Premier League (PL) history.
Unbeaten in their last six home games against Crystal Palace ahead of the fixture, Everton had every chance of sealing their survival against the ‘Eagles’. With just four points standing between themselves and the equalling of their PL points records of 1992/93 and 18/19, Palace were far from an easy side to overturn – and matters were made worse when the visitors took the lead in the 21st minute. Coming in unmarked from a set piece, Jean-Philippe Mateta had the easy task of nodding into the bottom corner from close range.
From there, tempers began to boil, leading to the controversial moment of the half, when Jordan Ayew’s challenge on Anthony Gordon led many to question whether a red card should have been shown. Staying on the pitch, however, Ayew was there to chest the ball down, before tapping home into an empty net following Jordan Pickford’s punch away to make it 2-0 just two minutes after the questionable tackle.
Frank Lampard attempted to change the tide in the second half with the introduction of Dele Alli, but faced an uphill battle as Palace had only conceded two goals in their previous four games. Michael Keane’s composed finish in the 54th minute at least put the Toffees on track to break that record, however, with the central defender expertly controlling a knockdown before guiding a left-footed finish into the bottom corner to halve the deficit.
Once their lead was cut, Palace did well to mount a response, with Mateta stinging the palms of Pickford, who turned away well. As it turned out, it was a chance that the striker should have taken, as Richarlison punished Palace at the other end, striking a deflected effort in off substitute Conor Gallagher to level the scores. The momentum was with the home side as they pushed for a winner in the final 15 minutes, and with blue flares raining down at Goodison Park Calvert-Lewin capped off a dramatic finale, sending a thumping header into the net to secure his side’s PL status for next season.