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Everton 3-2 Crystal Palace: Hosts stage remarkable fightback to secure Premier League survival

Sure. Safe. Words Evertonians never thought they’d find here. What a comeback this was. Out of nowhere really. The first 45 minutes were as bad as Everton have been; the second 45 as good as it gets.

From 2-0 down to 3-2 up. From sleepwalking over the canyon to the descent, to a mighty jump to the other side. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s winner was greeted by an insane pitching invasion, which may draw the attention of the authorities, but the sense of release was overwhelming.

After the second goal, the last 15 minutes of the game passed in a cloud of blue smoke, like an illegal party. The air was acrid, the atmosphere of total abandon. It had a crazy feeling, the final exchanges. Somehow Everton emerged with their sanity and place in the Premier League intact.

Everton manager Frank Lampard celebrates his impressive comeback on Thursday night.

Everton manager Frank Lampard celebrates his impressive comeback on Thursday night.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin unleashed chaos by sealing a remarkable comeback

Dominic Calvert-Lewin unleashed chaos by sealing a remarkable comeback

The Everton striker scored with a diving header off a Demarai Gray free-kick in the 85th minute

The Everton striker scored with a diving header off a Demarai Gray free-kick in the 85th minute

MATCH FACTS

Everton (3-4-3): Pickford 5.5; Coleman 5, Keane 6, Holgate 5; Iwobi 5.5, Doucoure 5.5, Gomes 4.5 (Alli 45min, 6), Mykolenko 5; Gordon 6 (grey 61, 5.5), Calvert-Lewin 7.5, Richarlison 7.5.

Goal scorer: Keane 54, Richarlison 75, Calvert-Lewin 85.

Reserved: Keane, Doucoure.

Manager: Frank Lampard 7.

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Butland 6.5; Clyne 6, Anderson 5.5, Guehi 6.5, Mitchell 6; Schlupp 6.5 (Gallagher 74, 6.5), Hughes 5.5 (Milivojevic 57, 6), Eze 7.5; Ayew 6, Mateta 7 (Benteke 81), Zaha 7.

Scorers: Mateta 21, Ayew 36.

Reserved: Hughes, Ayew, Zaha.

Manager: Patrick Vieira 6.

Referee: Anthony Taylor 5.5.

Everton seemed done, on 45 minutes, down two goals and playing abysmally. The second half was different. Everton went into fighting mode and Crystal Palace couldn’t resist them. They scored three goals, seized the points that take them away from Burnley and Leeds who will now fight until the end. The Arsenal outside is just another accessory.

This wasn’t This felt like a do-or-die fight, and certainly Everton were being measured by the Co-Op once Jordan Ayew made it 2-0 to Palace. From somewhere, they found resolution. The goals did not come in excess, but spread throughout an incredible second half, the tension growing minute by minute.

For the first, after 56 minutes, Mason Holgate headed Michael Keane, who showed excellent poise and balance to push the ball into the net. For the second, a Seamus Coleman cross should have been cleared before Richarlison hooked the ball past Jack Butland on goal. The third was a free kick, headed into the net by Calvert-Lewin. The fans turned on again at the end, to celebrate the 16th. There will be some teasing about it from the red half of this town. Maybe they could share the bus parade.

A game that began with such sound and fury turned into eerie silence and occasional bursts of white-hot fury as Everton’s season unfolded in microcosm of the first half. Man, this was poor from the local side. Toothless on offense, pitiful on defense. They looked like a relegation team.

Crystal Palace scored twice in the first half through Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew

Crystal Palace scored twice in the first half through Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew

Mateta was left unmarked to finish off the first goal with a header in the 21st minute

Mateta was left unmarked to finish off the first goal with a header in the 21st minute

1652995942 14 Everton 3 2 Crystal Palace Hosts stage remarkable fightback to secure

Calling them championship level would actually be an insult. There are teams in the league below that are better than this one.

A cameo summed it up. Everton won a corner which Anthony Gordon meekly struck against the first defender in the yellow jersey. On the touchline, Frank Lampard applauded encouragingly. He reminded one of the coach of an Under 11 team, who remained upbeat as little Johnny kicked another behind the goal. All that frustration channeled as positive energy. Not that it did any good.

The idea that Crystal Palace, or any team for that matter, is on the beach at this stage of the season is largely nonsense. Some, like Chelsea, are simply worn out by events; others, like Southampton, will be candidates for relegation next season without improvement. They just aren’t very good.

Crystal Palace, however, still have goals despite their mid-table position. They can move to the top half of the table, moving up places that could amount to an additional £6m or £10m on the transfer market this summer. That matters. They didn’t play last night as if Everton were the only team that cared about the result.

Ayew doubled the away lead from close range in the 36th minute at Goodison Park

Ayew doubled the away lead from close range in the 36th minute at Goodison Park

1652995944 600 Everton 3 2 Crystal Palace Hosts stage remarkable fightback to secure

This was a moody clash from the start, and perhaps that helped, but Palace’s mentality made them and the league proud.

This was a game from the third minute when Anthony Gordon, why always him, and Wilfried Zaha collided near the touchline. Zaha looked to make contact and the home crowd howled at his dismissal. Anthony Taylor had none of that, giving stern sermons all over the place.

As the game progressed, the referee seemed to bear more and more of the blame for Everton’s failures and calamities. In the seventh minute, Ayew’s header went just wide. It was a warning that Palace was not here to let events overwhelm them.

Richarlison skimmed the bar on a free throw from 25 yards after 16 minutes, more anger at Taylor because he thought Butland had a bunt to dunk him, which he didn’t, and then the roof just caved in.

Eberechi Eze took a free kick from the left that deflected towards the far post.

Nine minutes after the break, defender Michael Keane pushed home to give the hosts a lifeline.

Nine minutes after the break, defender Michael Keane pushed home to give the hosts a lifeline.

It was a beautiful and dangerous crossing, but it was criminal that he found striker Jean-Philippe Mateta in so much space. It’s really hard to blame anyone because qualifying was so bad that no one was close enough to take responsibility.

So let’s take collective responsibility and say Everton’s defense was completely useless as a group or as individuals. The ball flew into the net and Goodison fell silent. Stunned.

Five minutes later, at the other end, Coleman crossed and Vitalii Mykolenko missed his shot in a way that would be comical if the consequences were not increasingly disastrous for Everton. Maybe one day they will remember this and laugh.

But not yet. In the space of four minutes, three incidents that reduced the crowd to a seething mass of apoplexy. In the 32nd minute, Will Hughes was booked for a foul on Gordon. Again, why does everyone want to bail him out? A minute later, an even worse one on him from Ayew.

This was right in front of the Everton dugout and attracted players from all areas of the pitch, including goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who had never seen a fire without gravitating towards it with a bucket of petrol. Adding to his fury, Taylor only booked Ayew, who quickly thanked him by scoring.

Richarlison equalized for Everton with 15 minutes remaining against Crystal Palace

Richarlison equalized for Everton with 15 minutes remaining against Crystal Palace

The Brazilian striker found the goal post with a misguided shot with 15 minutes to go

The Brazilian striker found the goal post with a misguided shot with 15 minutes to go

This was the goal that encapsulated Everton’s season. Mateta took the ball away from Coleman too easily and his cross was inappropriately hit by Pickford, falling to Zaha. He responded with a shot that hit Ayew and rushed to score under the lightest of circumstances.

Abdoulaye Doucoure should have cleared his line, Mykolenko got in Pickford’s way. It was a disaster. So was Everton at the time. The news that Aston Villa were following Burnley didn’t help the half-time mood much either.

Everton seemed done, on 45 minutes, down two goals and playing abysmally. The second part was different. Everton went into fighting mode and Crystal Palace couldn’t resist them. They scored three goals, took advantage of the point that distances them from Burnley and Leeds, who will now fight until the end. The Arsenal outside is just another accessory.

This wasn’t This felt like a do-or-die fight, and certainly Everton were being measured by the Co-Op once Jordan Ayew made it 2-0 to Palace. From somewhere, they found resolution. The goals did not come in excess, but spread throughout an incredible second half, the tension growing minute by minute.

For the first, after 56 minutes, Mason Holgate headed in Michal Keane, who showed excellent poise and balance to drive the ball into the net. For the second, a Seamus Coleman cross should have been cleared before Richarlison hooked the ball past Jack Butland on goal. The third was a free kick, headed into the net by Calvert-Lewin. The fans turned on again at the end, to celebrate the 16th. There will be some derision from the red half of this town. Maybe they could share the bus parade

1652995948 419 Everton 3 2 Crystal Palace Hosts stage remarkable fightback to secure

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