Everton 2-3 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace recorded a fourth straight victory at Everton tonight to all but secure their Premier League status for another season.
Goals from Jason Puncheon, Scott Dann and Cameron Jerome at Goodison Park ended Everton’s seven-game winning streak and took Palace to the coveted 40-point mark.
With four games to play, Palace are 10 points clear of the relegation zone in 11th place.
Tony Pulis made one change from the team that beat Aston Villa 1-0 on Saturday, bringing Marouane Chamakh into the starting line-up in place of Kagoshi Dikgacoi.
As expected, the home side enjoyed more possession in the early stages with Palace happy to soak up the pressure and play on the counter attack.
For all their possession, though, Everton failed to created clear cut opportunities and it was the visitors who took the lead midway through the first half.
Yannick Bolasie’s cross in the 23rd minute wasn’t fully cleared by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard and Chamakh reacted first in the penalty area, laying the ball off for Puncheon to slot into the far corner.
It was Puncheon’s fourth goal in three games after his Villa winner and double at Cardiff.
Things almost got better for Pulis’s men before the break when Bolasie cut inside right back Seamus Coleman and fired in a low shot that beat Howard at his near post, but the ball came crashing back off the woodwork.
Everton lacked ideas on how to break Palace down in the first half with just a couple of snap shots on the turn from Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas the best they could manage.
Roberto Martinez introduced Steven Naismith at the break, but Palace were quickest out of the blocks in the second half and they doubled their lead in the 49th minute.
Bolasie swung in a corner which was met my Dann, who escaped John Stones before heading past Howard into the far corner.
A double change from home manager Roberto Martinez injected some much-needed life into Everton, and they found a way back into the game on the hour mark.
Mirallas stood a cross up to the far post, and Leighton Baines headed back across goal for Naismith to tap home.
Everton threw all they had at Palace in search of an equaliser and came close on a number of occasions, most notably when Leon Osman’s shot brushed the top of the crossbar.
However, the fightback came to a crashing halt when Jerome clinically slotted in Palace’s third in the 73rd minute to silence the Goodison crowd.
But it was a nervy final few minutes for Palace when Mirallas was left free in the penalty area, and he rounded Julian Speroni before tapping into an empty net.
Palace held on, though, and next face West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday before back-to-back home games against Manchester City and Liverpool.
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Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa (Parr 68), Delaney, Dann, Ward, Puncheon, Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie, Chamakh (Murray 80), Jerome (O’Keefe 76). Subs not used: Hennessey, McCarthy, Ince, Gayle.
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