Crystal Palace vs Everton match report: Alan Pardew's honeymoon period ended by Romelu Lukaku strike

Crystal Palace 0 Everton 1: Second-minute strike earns visitors their first win in nine games and ends Pardew’s run

Goal-line clearances, last-ditch tackles and clearing headers. None of these were in the brochure when Roberto Martinez sold Everton his vision of restoring the School of Science. This was back to the Bash Street Academy of David Moyes, a battling victory based on dogged defence – and how the visitors loved it.

After eight matches without a victory Everton desperately needed this one. Having taken a fortuitous second-minute lead through Romelu Lukaku they held on, initially riding their luck, ultimately more composed, to inflict the first reverse on Crystal Palace since Alan Pardew returned.

Everton’s manager denied he felt “relief”, preferring to speak of a “real satisfaction”. He added: “We were very professional. It is the hardest thing in football to hold on to the lead. We knew we were going to be tested, we had to defend the box well. It was a very pleasing performance.”

“I had a strange feeling today the first goal would be crucial,” said Pardew. “We never really produced a great moment, that final pass, final idea, let us down.”

 

The two teams began the match separated only by goal difference in the Premier League, but Palace had won four on the spin since Pardew returned while Everton last won before Christmas. With a Merseyside derby next on the agenda, followed by a trip to Stamford Bridge, Martinez needed a result to quell growing dissent at Goodison Park.

He could not have had a better start. Less than two minutes’ gentle sparring had elapsed before John Stones filtered a pass through to release Steven Naismith in the inside-right channel. Julian Speroni got his hands to the low, driven cross but could only parry it into the onrushing Lukaku, the ball rebounding back into the net.

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New Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew watches on from the dug-out

Palace’s response underlined their resurgent self-belief as they put Everton under siege. The visitors’ back four did not convince under this pressure, but survived.

Set-pieces were a cause for concern, with Everton struggling to clear the second ball. Following a deep free-kick Dwight Gayle scooped over Joel Robles’s shoulder but Phil Jagielka hooked the ball away. To the naked eye the ball looked over the line but the Goal Decision System, by the slimmest of margins, said otherwise.

“I thought it was in from the players’ reaction, but the linesman said it was no goal on his watch so I knew straight away,” said Pardew, adding: “Whoever invented it [the GDS] wants kicking up the bum.”

Yaya Sanogo was next to be denied, his goalbound shot being cleared by Stones after Robles dropped a cross following a corner. Stones next blocked a shot by Marouane Chamakh, who then put a header wide, before a clash of heads with Seamus Coleman forced the Moroccan off with a suspected broken nose. Jordon Mutch, newly signed from QPR, replaced him to little effect.

Everton, after scoring, barely got out of their half before the interval. Nevertheless, with Robles turning aside a Jason Puncheon drive from distance, they managed to reach the sanctuary of the dressing room still in the lead.

On the resumption Palace continued to look sharper and brighter. Everton’s back four, however, had recovered from their nervy start, and with Mo Besic and Gareth Barry providing a covering shield Robles had a much quieter 45 minutes.

Indeed, it was Everton who came closest to scoring as Palace left gaps at the back in their quest to level. Aiden McGeady robbed Puncheon and brought a flying save from Speroni after 85 minutes, then he and Lukaku also wasted good chances on the counterattack.

It mattered not. Palace, had nothing left to offer. “Now we can look forward to the Merseyside derby,” said Martinez, his ever-present smile less strained than in recent weeks.

Line-ups:

Crystal Palace: (4-2-3-1) Speroni; Ward, Delaney, Dann, Kelly (Zaha, 65); McArthur, Ledley; Puncheon, Chamakh (Mutch, 25), Gayle; Sanogo (Murray, 71).

Everton: (4-2-3-1) Robles; Coleman, Jagielka, Stones, Baines; Barry, Besic; McGeady, Naismith, Mirallas (Oviedo, 68); Lukaku (Koné, 90).

Referee: Roger East.

Man of the match: Stones (Everton)

Match rating: 6/10

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