Football: Kendall shown way by old and new foes

Everton 1 Crystal Palace 2
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There was at least one comforting thought for Howard Kendall after Saturday's opening day of the campaign: he is not due to face Crystal Palace again until January.

Kendall's final match of last season saw his Sheffield United team lose 1-0 to Palace at Wembley in the First Division playoff final on a sweltering afternoon late in May. Less than 11 weeks later the sun was still beating down and Palace were again Kendall's opponents as the new season got underway.

The margin of defeat was also the same, but the size of the task facing the new manager of Everton seems to be greater than ever.

Whereas Palace improved substantially on their Wembley display, Kendall must have wondered whether his new multi-million pound team were any improvement on his previous charges.

Sheffield United's performance had lacked both inspiration and imagination - and on this evidence much the same could be said of Everton. The difference is that this side cost many millions more to assemble, and although there is money for Kendall to spend he is well aware of the difficulties of attracting players of the highest calibre to a club which has slipped a long way since his all-conquering first reign at Goodison Park in the 1980s.

The lack of attacking ideas was pitiful. Finding the head of Duncan Ferguson often appeared to be Everton's only tactic and, although this finally brought its reward with a consolation goal five minutes from time, Palace's defence rarely looked in trouble. John Oster was the only home midfielder who looked likely to do anything out of the ordinary, but the pounds 1.5m teenager from Grimsby must surely be regarded as a long-term investment.

Slaven Bilic, a pounds 4.5m purchase from West Ham, will provide a more instant return in defence, but Kendall will have been worried at the ease with which Palace created chances. Most involved Attilio Lombardo, who made a sparkling debut following his pounds 1.6m move from Juventus.

While the motives of some foreign recruits have understandably been called into question, this performance suggested that Palace's 31-year- old Italian international could have an inspirational affect on Steve Coppell's team. Apart from his two decisive contributions - a cool finish after an astute one-two with Paul Warhurst and a penetrating run which produced a penalty for Bruce Dyer to convert - Lombardo impressed with both his creative vision and his willingness to work.

Palace remain one of the favourites for relegation, but they can take heart from this gutsy performance. They defended stoutly, worked tirelessly in midfield and attacked intelligently on the break. David Hopkin's departure for Leeds was a severe blow, but Warhurst, who made a promising debut in attack, and Lombardo offer hope for what will no doubt be difficult months ahead.

Goals: Lombardo (34) 0-1; Dyer (pen 77) 0-2; Ferguson (85) 1-2.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Thomas (Branch, h-t), Watson, Bilic, Phelan; Oster (Short, 87), Thompsen (Barmby, 64), Speed, Farrelly; Stuart, Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Gerrard (gk), Barrett.

Crystal Palace (5-3-2): Miller; Muscat, Tuttle, Edworthy, Linighan, Gordon; Lombardo (Veart, 81), Roberts, Rodger; Dyer (Shipperley, 81), Warhurst (Fullerton, 77). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Hreidarsson.

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).

Bookings: Everton Bilic, Stuart. Palace Warhurst, Rodger, Lombardo, Linighan, Dyer.

Man of the match: Lombardo.

Attendance: 35,716.