Crystal Palace 2-2 Everton: Blues battle back twice to deny the Eagles their second win of the season

In a battle at the wrong end of the Premier League table, goals from Leighton Baines and Oumar Niasse were enough to bag Everton a point after Crystal Palace had taken the lead through goals from James McArthur and Wilfred Zaha.

The Blues, searching for their first away win since they beat Palace towards the end of last January, did not get off to the best of starts. A soft save from Jordan Pickford after a tame effort from Ruben Loftus-Cheek allowed McArthur to poke home a rebound after 45 seconds.

However, David Unsworth’s side wouldn't be behind for long.

Good play from Ademola Lookman in the middle of midfield had the Eagles on their heels. He found Niasse inside the 18-yard box and the in-form forward was bundled over by Scott Dann as referee Anthony Taylor pointed for an Everton penalty.

Leighton Baines, whose winning spot-kick against Watford two weeks ago made his the Blues’ all-time scorer from the spot, obliged as he always does and thundered the ball past a beaten Julian Speroni.

After a lull in play, Roy Hodgson’s side would find themselves on top once again. Zaha, with his back to goal, played a quick return pass to Andros Townsend and spun in to the Everton 18-yard-box.

Townsend sprayed a pass wide to Joel Ward and his inch-perfect cross found a sliding Zaha at the far post as he was able to get his toe on the end of the cross to give the hosts their second lead of the game.

Like their first lead, it didn’t last too long.

The Blues capitalised on poor Palace play at the back as Speroni tried to play out to Dann. The centre-half was pounced upon by Idrissa Gana Gueye.

The Senegalese midfielder laid the ball off to Gylfi Sigurdsson as he played a rare through ball for Niasse to roll past the Argentine goalkeeper for his sixth goal of the season.

Battle of a first half

It was all go from the first whistle at Selhurst Park after McArthur gave the hosts the lead less than a minute into the afternoon.

Baines levelled for the visitors less than five minutes later before Haha gave the Eagles their second lead of the afternoon after the half-hour mark.

Everton got their second after Niasse turned goalscorer following his ‘assist’ for Baines’ leveller.

Niasse, who nearly joined Palace towards the end of the summer transfer window, played the villain for most of the first as the vocal home support expressed their displeasure following his perceived overacting that meant the referee would point to the penalty spot for the Blues’ first goal.

Both sides had spells of dominance but were unable to capitalise.

The hosts best stuff came from the trickery of Zaha as the midfield of McArthur, Loftus-Cheek, Yohan Cabaye, and Luka Milivojević outbattled the Blues in all departments.

Everton, still looking for a manager and an identity, are improving under interim boss Unsworth but have a ways to go before they start getting results and look to string them together

Going into the break, they would be certainly the happier of the two teams as they showed that vintage ‘Everton’ ability to battle back.

Neither side could find a winner

Similar to the first-half, both sides had plenty of chances to add to the scoreline but were unable to.

Everton had their best spell shortly after the break. With Tom Davies replacing Morgan Schneiderlin, the Blues had a more energetic look to their play.

He was able to link up with Sigurdsson as the Icelandic playmaker danced his way into the Palace box. His cut back to half-time substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin was saved by Speroni at point-blank range as the visitors were denied a quick second-half lead.

From there, the game became up and down and rather niggly. By the time the fourth official threw up his board to showcase that there would be three minutes of stoppage time, there had been a combined 35 fouls between both sides.

Zaha, again as the key man, was Palace’s main source of creativity but he without a recognisable striker on the pitch, his ability to carve open the Everton defence was for nothing.

The introduction of Christian Benteke 15 minutes from time and then Jason Puncheon moments later, allowed the 25-year-old to operate further wide opposed to the more central role he operated for the majority of the game.

However, Palace’s late dominance came to nothing as Benteke fluffed his lines after a sensational pass from Zaha again opened up the Everton back line.

Next up for Hodgson’s side is a home fixture against Stoke City whilst Unsworth’s travel to the south coast to take on Southampton.