Everton lost ground in the race for the Europa League, playing out a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace, despite dominating proceedings for the majority of the game.
Marco Silva’s side were denied the lead on numerous occasions, repeatedly hitting the woodwork and watching on as Vicente Guaita made a number of spectacular stops.
Story of the Match
Crystal Palace almost took an early lead against Everton as Max Meyer carved open a modicum of space for himself. However, the German could only find the side netting of Jordan Pickford’s net inside of handing his team an early lead.
Despite the rapid start from the hosts, the first-half - and the rest of the game - became all about Everton and their inability to take the lead.
Both Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Gylfi Sigurdsson threatened the Palace backline, forcing high turnovers early into the game - but with Calvert-Lewin lacking the final touch needed to put Silva’s men ahead.
That Everton dominance, yet inability to find a goal, continued right until half-time when Idrissa Gana Gueye and Richarlison both tried to find a breakthrough with efforts of their own.
Palace had a small resurgence to start the second period as James McArthur fired wide of Pickford’s post. That, like in the first-half, seemed to wake Everton up as they took control from there on.
Bernard nailed the right-hand post of the Palace goal as the visitors searched for any sort of hope of a goal. They almost had the chance to convert from the penalty spot when Richarlison appealed for a spot-kick under a tackle from Patrick Van-Aanholt but the Blues were only awarded a corner kick.
Late in the second-half, Everton turned the screw even further before being denied a late by both the woodwork and Guaita. Substitute Cenk Tosun attempted to send home a low-cross with a backheel and could have been forgiven for wheeling away in celebration if it were not for the Spaniard's sensational low stop.
Lucas Digne’s deflected cross almost snatched the win, however, he could only find the far-post with Guaita well-and-truly beaten - leaving Silva’s Blues frustrated as they had to return to Merseyside with only a point.
Everton still lack quality
With only two games left to play in the Premier League, the focus for all teams will quickly shift to the summer transfer window and preparing for next season. Silva and Everton’s Director of Football Marcel Brands have already stated that they have agreed on targets and will get to work as soon as it is possible to do so.
However, if they haven’t noted that they need some class in the final third then they may have to rethink that target list. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has shown that he has the talent to lead the line, for now, but ultimately - to bridge the gap to the top four - Everton will need a recognised goalscorer.
While Silva called upon three attacking substitutes during the game - Ademola Lookman, Cenk Tosun, and Theo Walcott - none of the trio really made an impact. Tosun, who is likely to depart the club in the summer, came closest with his backheeled attempt but struggled with his all-round game.
Eagles sacrifice flair for steel
Roy Hodgson’s Palace side displayed just why they have been able to grind out their Premier League survival - denying Everton a high number of clear cut chances despite handing over possession regularly.
However, the Eagles failed to balance that defensive solidity with any sort of attacking impetus as they laboured to create chances against the Blues. Wilfred Zaha was kept quiet by Everton’s backline as Hodgson’s side failed to have a shot on target all afternoon, seeing all of their eight attempts going wayward.