Gravesen finds form to ease Moyes' fears

Crystal Palace 1 - Everton 3
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The Independent Football

The announcement that Everton are likely to fall this week into the hands of Boris Zingarevic, a wealthy Russian businessman who is poised to complete a £20m deal for a 40 per cent controlling interest in the Merseyside club, might persuade David Moyes to reconsider his opinion that he has the toughest job in the Premiership.

The announcement that Everton are likely to fall this week into the hands of Boris Zingarevic, a wealthy Russian businessman who is poised to complete a £20m deal for a 40 per cent controlling interest in the Merseyside club, might persuade David Moyes to reconsider his opinion that he has the toughest job in the Premiership.

Following Saturday's 3-1 defeat of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, only their second away win in the Premiership for 16 months, the Everton manager admitted that boardroom strife had been a debilitating factor in his preparation for the season. Since Everton have debts estimated at between £30m and £40m, Zingarevic's injection of cash would restore stability to the club and increase the chances of holding on to Wayne Rooney, whose £30m transfer value was beginning to look like the club's only lifeline.

Although Moyes was deeply disappointed by last week's 4-1 loss to Arsenal at Goodison Park he gradually came around to the conclusion that it was the brilliance of Arsène Wenger's team rather than the shortcomings of his own that brought about a result to raise fears of a relegation struggle.

"In my time we've always done well against Arsenal so it raised a question. Were we that poor or was it simply that Arsenal are even better than they were last season?" Moyes settled on the latter.

Ironically it was another of Everton's saleable assets, the Danish international Thomas Gravesen who came to the rescue on Saturday, scoring twice and setting up another score for Marcus Bent, to end a run of five successive defeats. Gravesen, who was voted Denmark's outstanding player in the 2002 World Cup, has frequently infuriated Moyes but Saturday saw the best of him.

"As far as I'm concerned we've got to offer Thomas a new contract," Moyes said. "He's an outstanding player, and today he showed what he's good at."

Although Palace were without the Hungarian striker Sandor Torghelle, who was injured in midweek against Scotland, their attack gave Everton plenty to think about in the early stages.

Andy Johnson's persistence paid off after nine minutes when he drew a challenge from Kevin Campbell that sent the ball ricocheting to Wayne Routledge. He danced past Gary Naysmith and centred for an unmarked Mark Hudson to head past Nigel Martyn.

In an attempt to overcome the vast difference in class, clubs promoted to the Premiership put their faith in effort. "What we need out of every game is monumental commitment, a cup final performance each and every time," the Palace manager Iain Dowie said.

Fifty-one years in the top flight make Everton a different proposition. "Everton are among the biggest and best supported clubs in the Premiership so people are bound to expect better things from us," Moyes said. "Whatever else is going on at the club we can only speak with our performances on the field."

Shortly after Alan Stubbs cleared off the line from Johnson to prevent Palace from taking a two-goal lead, Everton were gifted a penalty. Following a mix up, the Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni tried to dribble around Kevin Campbell and brought him down. Gravesen converted the spot kick.

You felt right away that Everton had found themselves and so it proved. On the hour Gravesen struck again, steering through an inept Palace defence to unleash a curling shot that found the top far corner of Speroni's net. Everton were now so much in control that they were able to cope comfortably with the loss of Gary Naysmith who was sent off for a second bookable offence.

With Palace throwing themselves forward, Gravesen put Marcus Bent through for Everton's third. Dowie spoke about positives. Moyes about enjoying a Saturday night for the first time in ages.

Goals: Hudson (9) 1-0; Gravesen (19) pen, 1-1; Gravesen (62) 1-2; Bent (82) 1-3.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Boyce (Kaviedes, 77), Hudson, Popovic, Granville, Routledge, Riihilahti (Derry, 73), Hall, Kolkka, Johnson, Freedman. Substitutes not used: Kiraly (gk), Borrowdale, Hughes.

Everton (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Naysmith, Osman (Pistone, 75), Gravesen, Carsley, Kilbane, Bent (Watson, 85), Campbell (Ferguson, 54). Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), McFadden.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Co Durham).

Booked: Everton: Naysmith.

Sent off: Everton: Naysmith.

Man of the Match: Gravesen.

Attendance: 23,666.

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