Marco Silva's substitutes combined to earn Everton a dramatic late victory over Crystal Palace. Manager Silva sent on Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin with eight minutes remaining, having already added Cenk Tosun to the fray in his search for a breakthrough goal.
On 87 minutes Lookman collected a pass from Richarlison on the left and stood up a cross which Calvert-Lewin met with a ferocious header which Wayne Hennessey could only help into the net.
Two minutes later and with Palace desperately pressing for an equaliser, Michael Keane's clearance set Tosun on his bike. He progressed into the box and finished expertly beyond Hennessey.
The visitors had a golden chance to take the lead on the hour but were thwarted when Jordan Pickford brilliantly saved Luka Milivojevic’s penalty after Seamus Coleman was penalised for tripping Wilfried Zaha.
Andre Gomes was impressive on his debut in Everton’s midfield and merited his thunderous round of applause when he was one of the two men - along with Theo Walcott - who made way late in the piece.
Everton had most of the ball in the first-half – 57 per cent of it to be exact – and shaded the chance count
It was Palace who came closest to troubling the scorers, though. Ten minutes from the interval Andros Townsend lifted a corner from the right to the back post, where James Tomkins steered the ball back into the middle.
The towering Cheikhou Kouyate powered the ball towards goal but against the underside of the bar, Everton then scrambling the ball to safety.
Just 60 seconds earlier Sigurdsson had struck fractionally over after being teed up by Bernard at the edge of the box.
Sigurdsson, in fact, was central to a lot of Everton’s most daring play. He sent a shout bouncing narrowly wide of Hennessey’s left-hand post on the stroke of half-time.
Goalkeeper Hennessey pushed the ball round his same upright after Sigurdsson had fastened onto a return pass from Coleman to fire a shot on target.
Coleman, back in the side after a six-week injury absence, instigated his side’s first attack of the game. An electric move it was, too. Richarlison received possession from the right-back and found Sigurdsson in the centre circle. His strength and clever feet carried him away from Kouyate and James McArthur to feed Bernard on the left.
The winger cut inside and appeared poised to shoot but instead attempted a back heel to the onrushing Lucas Digne, enabling Palace to recover their shape – and their senses.
Coleman was too high with an effort from 20 yards on 10 minutes and shortly after Richarlison was hauled down on halfway by Tomkins with the Brazilian chasing onto Pickford’s precision punt.
Tomkins stayed on the right side of the law to cut off Richarlison at the pass after Idrissa Gana Gueye enthusiastically robbed Milivojevic, before steering a pass forward for the striker.
Indeed, former West Ham United centre-back Tomkins was having a rather large say in the action. He wasn’t all that far away from converting when Townsend dug out a cross from the left following a Palace corner. Tomkins rose in the middle of the box but glanced beyond the far post.
The same Palace player – not long after Coleman was wide awake to scurry across and clear with Townsend poised to shoot – careered into the back of Richarlison after another pass up into the South Amercian’s compass.
Richarlison was unmolested when he met Digne’s left-wing corner three minutes before half-time but could not direct his header below Hennessey’s crossbar.
Palace had set out with the intention of putting the brakes on Everton’s creative forces. With Richarlison, this involved employing a fair degree of physicality. Milivojevic, for instance, went in the book not long after half-time for crudely downing the Blues player.
Silva’s side had returned from the interval with the bit between their teeth. Tomkins charged down a thundering drive from Gomes. Digne collected the scraps and had a go from distance, the ball diverting wide off Mamadou Sakho, who could only wait and hope after it struck his leg.
Palace broke on 60 minutes, though, the menacing Zaha zipping into the box and falling under a challenge from Coleman.
Milivojevic slammed his penalty down the middle but was foiled by the outstretched leg of Pickford, diving to his left.
Everton promptly returned fire. Walcott went through but was denied one-on-one by Hennessey, while Keane was off target with a header from a Digne corner on 70 minutes.
A succession of late set-pieces were reaping few dividends and the game appeared bound to end scoreless until the late drama completely changed the complexion of the afternoon and sent Everton up three places to eighth in the Premier League table.
Jordan Pickford leapt to his feet and sent a ferocious left hook arcing through thin air.
Everton’s goalkeeper was rightly enjoying the moment after pulling off his latest piece of brilliance. Luka Milivojevic does not miss from the spot often.
Before today, he had taken 10 penalties in his near two years in the Premier League following a move from Olympiakos in January 2017.
Milivojevic had scored nine of them – including one past Pickford when Everton beat Palace 3-1 at Goodison last term.
Pickford, though, is a dab hand in these situations. He has saved three penalties since joining from Sunderland last summer. He shot to national prominence when he denied Colombian Carlos Bacca to help England win a World Cup shootout for the first time in the summer.
Two confident men, then. Milivojevic crunched his kick down the middle. Pickford had gone left but not sold himself entirely, cleverly leaving a leg behind.
The ball duly struck that limb and rebounded away from goal before being smuggled behind. As Pickford celebrated, the decibel levels inside Goodison rocketed. It was nothing Evertonians hadn’t seen before, though.
He’s England’s number one for a reason. The moment galvanised the crowd and similarly energised the home team. Cue Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun stepping forward to make sure Pickford's work was worth three points rather than one.
Gomes Up And Running
This was a significant day for Andre Gomes, playing his first football match for more than six months – the Portuguese’s most recent outing was for Barcelona in a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on April 17.
Thickset and imposing, Gomes covers the ground with a certain efficiency, moving with the power of one of those American gas guzzlers, deceptively cruising along at 80mph.
His passing was sharp, crisp and struck with the authority of a man used to playing with footballers whose boots appear as if covered with Velcro.
The former Benfica and Valencia player boasts 50/50 vision, too. He spotted an out-to-in run from Theo Walcott early in the second half which you’d have done well to detect from the back of the Main Stand. The ensuing execution was as precise as his awareness had been acute.
Gomes keeps the ball rotating, too, helping it on first time when possible. If he needs to hang on to it, the midfielder is perfectly adept at holding off opponents, while creating an angle for his pass – around the quarter-hour mark Gomes was facing his own goal and had Andros Townsend snapping hungrily at his heels.
The Everton player coolly and quickly dragged the ball under his foot to create space and find a pass – making light of what, in less capable hands, could have been a sticky situation. That, so it transpired, was typical Andre Gomes. He is comfortable receiving possession anywhere on the field.
Gomes is prepared to run beyond midfield as well; always alive to the opportunity of a pass infield from one of his widemen when the pitch is opening in front of him.
Most impressive in the initial phase of the game was Gomes’s awareness. Palace’s main man Wilfried Zaha was deployed through the middle, leaving Gomes as one of the men charged with cutting off the sizzling forward’s supply.
On a few occasions, Everton’s debutant was astutely placed to intercept, cutting Zaha out of the game and subseuqently springing the hosts onto the front foot.
For a man who must have some rust in his legs and mind, Gomes demonstrated terrific anticipation. Late in the first half he was the player who snaffled a loose pass out from Palace’s left-back position in Everton’s attacking third.
Gomes can play off both sides and is willing to take on a shot. He had one excellently closed down by Milivojevic and another which scooted just wide. He left the field to a standing ovation, probably ready for a result and able to savour a job well done.
The Long Game
Teams have typically come to Goodison Park minded to frustrate Everton this term. Palace joined the growing list whose first objective was to stifle the Blues’ imaginative and expressive front four.
The away side sat fairly deep and, in a bid to prevent Everton gaining any kind of momentum, filled up their midfield with a scrum of bodies.
This being the Premier League, they also came armed with an attack boasting a substantial threat in the shape of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend.
Marco Silva talks of the balance his team needs to strike in such circumstances. Everton, says the manager, must be quick in possession and efficient with their pressing – knock their opponents out of kilter by winning possession as high up the pitch as possible, essentially.
Counter-intuitive as it sounds, Silva was equally strident about the need for his side to be patient. Start chasing the game and that is when you become ragged, opening yourself up to spend merchants like Zaha – as clinical as he is rapid – to take advantage.
There is a requirement, too, to steer clear of the predictable. Everton, of course, aim to utilise the speed of thought and movement of their international quartet of attackers. By and large, the means for this is through passes fired into feet, either directly from midfield or via one of the team’s two progressive full-backs.
Silva has his style – “our way”, he calls it – but the manager’s structure is roomy enough to contain various approaches.
Richarlison, Theo Walcott and Gylfi Sigurdsson, all tremendous technicians, sought to run long at various junctures. In turn, Andre Gomes, along with full-back pair Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne, did not hesitate to strike the ball over a distance when they glimpsed their frontmen making a dart for it off the shoulders of Palace’s centre-halves.
Those defenders were then compelled to sit off for fear of being exposed, unable to push out and engage with Everton’s ball players when they received possession.
Patience, in this instance, amounted to 87 minutes of waiting for the decisive moment – and not allowing Palace to grab the ascendancy in the meantime. And the Evertonians emitting one guttural roar after the other in the final few minutes would agree entirely with the old adage about what comes to those who wait.