Jordan Pickford hailed the vocal backing of the Goodison Park crowd after his penalty save proved the catalyst for a rocking atmosphere in Everton’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday.
The England No. 1 saved brilliantly from Luka Milivojević’s spot-kick on the hour mark and, roared on by the watching Evertonians, Marco Silva’s men went on to grab two late goals to lift the Blues up to eighth in the Premier League.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed home from fellow sub Ademola Lookman’s cross on 87 minutes to send the Grand Old Lady into raptures.
And it was another of Silva’s substitutes who secured the victory – Cenk Tosun lashing into the bottom corner just a minute later after a fine through ball from Michael Keane.
Pickford explained there was a noticeable rise in the volume at Goodison after his penalty stop – and hailed the supporters for spurring the Toffees on to victory.
“I think [the save] was a bit of game-changer, really,” he said. “It got the crowd going and it really helped us to perform well.
“And when the crowd really got behind us, we brought the two lads on [Calvert-Lewin and Tosun] and the game changed.
“It was two great finishes from them.”
The victory was the Blues’ third on the spin in the Premier League and capped a fine week for Pickford – who played a starring role for England as they beat Spain 3-2 in Seville.
The 24-year-old was also key figure in the Three Lions’ run to the World Cup semi-finals in the summer. He notably became the first England goalkeeper to triumph in a penalty shootout at the finals - saving thrillingly from Carlos Bacca‘s spot-kick as Gareth Southgate’s side beat Colombia in the last 16.
When Milivojević - who had scored nine of his past 10 penalties - stepped up with the score deadlocked at 0-0, the watching Evertonians therefore knew they had a man between the sticks capable of producing the spectacular when it really matters.
And Pickford delivered again – his outstretched right boot keeping out the Serbian’s effort.
“I was just looking at his run-up and he normally whips it,” Pickford explained. “I thought he was going to go to the ‘keeper’s left and I just left my right leg dangling and managed to get a foot on it
“I don’t mind taking penalties in training but I don’t really practice saving them! I just do my research and that’s it.”