Wednesday night had plenty of football on show, there was the Champions League, FA Cup and also some Premier League action as Crystal Palace hosted Everton.
Both teams in this meeting have FA Cup semi-finals to look forward too, however in other matters the league performances for both teams haven’t been good enough and this was a vital game for both.
Palace have struggled in the new year, however after fourteen premier league matches without a victory this weekend saw them pick up their first win since December as they beat fellow struggler’s Norwich City.
As for Everton they’ve managed three premier league victories in the new year, however the lack of consistency has been frustrating for the fans and the last four matches doesn’t show an improvement as they suffered three straight defeats before drawing to Watford on Saturday.
Crystal Palace started brightly as their visitors started the game in edgy fashion. After a couple of corners which lead to nothing of note Palace registered their first shot on target, Arouna Koné gifted the ball to Jason Puncheon and he played in Yannick Bolasie, however his effort wasn’t too convincing but Robles still need to save.
Shortly after the home side came close, Wilfried Zaha was allowed plenty of space and he was able to pick out Dwight Gayle, the forward fired just wide after John Stones managed to force enough pressure to disrupt him.
Everton first threatened in the seventh minute, a ball into Romelo Lukaku saw the Belgian play in Ross Barkley and after cutting back onto his left the space was closed down and his effort was blocked.
After quiet period in the game Everton started to warm into the game and they forced Wayne Hennessey into making a good save just before the twenty minute mark. Aaron Lennon picked up a loose ball and played the ball out wide to Leighton Baines, his first time cross to the back post found Seamus Coleman in space and the right back’s shot saw the Palace keeper save at his near post.
After twenty-six minutes the away side came close once more, Barkley’s pass forward to Lukaku was deflected into the path of Koné and the Ivory Coast forward unleashed an effort which flew just over the bar.
Palace threatened themselves before the half hour mark, however they quickly found themselves on the back foot as Everton quickly countered. Barkley charged forward and slipped the ball through to Lukaku, unfortunately for the travelling fans Hennessey was very quick off his line and saved Lukaku’s effort.
The home side responded a few minutes later, Everton failed to deal with a cross into the area and a poor header from Stones allowed Gayle to produce a lovely overhead kick which went agonisingly wide as Joel Robles stood rotted to his spot.
Everton were wasteful in possession throughout the first half and they almost fell behind after Barkley gave away possession with an optimistic cross field pass. Zaha intercepted and burst forward, he charged into the area and fired the ball across goal and Ramiro Funes Mori almost directed the cross into his own net, luckily for him it crept just over.
Early into the second half Everton came inches away from opening the deadlock, beforehand however the away side had two penalty appeals turned down as Coleman was clipped by Bolasie and then there was an appeal for handball in the area. Moments later the ball fell kindly to Barkley and he fired a brilliant strike which saw him denied by the crossbar.
Six minutes into the half Everton were reduced to ten men after having all the momentum, Bolasie broke forward and on the half way line James McCarthy stepped in to block the winger off and in doing so picking up his second booking.
Everton seemed unfazed by the disadvantage and continued to push forward while having to plenty of possession. Despite their possession it was the home side that created the next chance and it was a golden one for the hosts. Mile Jedinak came forward with the ball and slipped the ball to Puncheon and with a bit of space fans were expecting to see a goal, sadly for Palace Robles stayed big and saved excellently.
The effort sparked Palace back into life and they became the team on top as Robles became very busy after having to make a number saves, two of which were excellent as he got down low to his left to deny Yohan Cabaye before having to palm an effort from Puncheon away from danger.
The home team were firmly on the front foot as Everton sat back and substitute Emmanuel Adebayor should’ve found the net , a terrific lofted ball over the top saw Adebayor in space a few yards out and the Togo forward headed across goal and wide.
As the game edged into the last ten minutes Crystal Palace should’ve grabbed the lead, Bakary Sako crossed from the left, Adebayor leapt highest at the back post to head the ball down to Conor Wickham, however at the last possible moment Stones flew in to put in a terrific block to deny the striker from a few yards out. Shortly after it was another cross from the left that caused problems, Sako crossed and again Wickham had the chance, this time he could only direct his header over.
The hosts continued to look for the winner and once more they threatened from a cross, Bryan Oviedo failed to clear and a cross from the right picked out Adebayor, disappointingly for the striker the cross was slightly too high and he headed wide.
That proved to be the last chance of the game as Crystal Palace were left frustrated, a win was needed for both teams, however after the early second half sending off Everton will be happy with a point and the clean sheet.
Up next for Palace is the short journey to face Arsenal as they’ll look to take away something from the London derby. As for Everton they too have a tough test as they welcome Southampton to Goodison Park as they look to get back to winning ways.