Conor Gallagher wasn’t even born when Crystal Palace last managed to beat Everton at home but a scintillating performance from the England midfielder finally ended that sequence despite a late fightback from Rafael Benítez’s side.
Such is Gallagher’s influence on the club he joined from Chelsea on a season-long loan that he has now been involved in almost half of all Palace’s goals so far this season, with six goals and three assists. His superb second strike of the afternoon in stoppage time almost lifted the roof off Selhurst Park as Patrick Vieira’s side ended a run of three successive defeats in style. How Everton must wish they had a player like Gallagher in their ranks.
“What’s extraordinary is we are talking about the 90th minute and he’s been running all over. To find the energy to score that goal took a lot,” admitted Vieira. “The challenge for him is to maintain that level.”
While another lacklustre performance from Benítez’s side that saw an ineffective Richarlison show his displeasure after being hauled off with more than half an hour to play almost ended with something to show for it after James Tomkins had made it 2-0 to Palace, the Everton manager insisted the Brazilian forward had been carrying a calf injury.
“At half-time we could see he was limping but he said he wanted to try the second half,” he said. “We always try to do the best for the team.”
With Lucas Digne again omitted, Benítez started with Ben Godfrey at left-back once again and selected midfielder André Gomes for his first league start of the season. The spirited second-half comeback against Arsenal on Monday may have eased some pressure on their manager but Benítez knew that relinquishing a record that has stood since Andy Preece scored the only goal of the game here in October 1994 would certainly not help his cause.
Palace had managed only six goals in 10 previous home matches against these opponents since then, having last beaten Everton in 2014 twice in the space of five months at Goodison Park.Jordan Ayew’s 43-game wait for a Premier League goal is another unwanted statistic Vieira would definitely prefer to put behind him and that drought should have been ended in the seventh minute. Not for the last time, Jordan Pickford came to Everton’s rescue.
A twisting run by Gallagher ending with a left-footed shot that dipped just over the bar was a portent of what was to come, before Pickford beat away Wilfried Zaha’s effort at the near post. Demarai Gray’s shot from distance that was easily gathered by Vicente Guaita midway through the half was at least a sign of attacking intent from the visitors. Gomes’s volley after Godfrey had made a rare foray forward could easily have broken the deadlock but instead it went straight at the Palace goalkeeper.
As well as an unbelievable work ethic, Gallagher has also developed a penchant for scoring goals since moving to south London. His fifth of the campaign duly arrived before the break when Everton failed to clear and Ayew showed great coolness to allow him to sweep the ball past Pickford.
Everton’s players were sent out early for the second half presumably hoping for a repeat of their comeback against Arsenal. But it was Palace who resumed control, with Gallagher going close to his second when he nodded Zaha’s cross just wide. A stunning piece of control that saw the 21-year-old instantly bring down a long pass and almost set up Zaha took the breath away, although Gallagher was unable to direct his next effort on target after another lung-bursting run.
Benítez’s response was to withdraw Fabian Delph and Richarlison, who had somehow managed only 10 touches in 57 minutes of action. The Brazilian left the pitch shaking his head, with the away supporters making their displeasure clearly heard. Their misery seemed complete five minutes later when a corner from Will Hughes found Tomkins unmarked at the back post and the centre-back gleefully rammed in his first goal for two years.
Yet rather than just roll over, from somewhere Everton suddenly found their fighting spirit. A Gray free-kick went just over the bar before Salomón Rondón bundled home when Abdoulaye Doucouré’s effort deflected off Joel Ward.
Another error from Ward almost gifted them an equaliser, only for a heroic block from Jeffrey Schlupp to deny Andros Townsend a goal against his former club.
Despite their struggles, Everton had already picked up more points from losing positions than any other side and their opportunity to complete another comeback came when Anthony Gordon found himself in acres of space and bearing down on Guaita’s goal. But the Spaniard was equal to his shot and Palace gratefully hacked clear, with Gallagher deservedly having the final say in stoppage time when he punished Séamus Coleman for trying to take a quick free-kick by finding the top corner from 25 yards out.