Everton will bring their FA Cup campaign back to Goodison Park after a goalless draw that deserved more at Crystal Palace was soured by Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s controversial red card 11 minutes from time.
Sean Dyche’s men were the better side for much of the tie but, just as they were ramping up the pressure to find a winner, referee Chris Kavanagh was called to the VAR monitor to check for a foul he initially didn’t give to look at Calvert-Lewin’s slide tackle on Nathaniel Clyne.
Despite the tackle looking, at most, a caution, Kavanagh opted to dismiss Calvert-Lewin. And the Blues’ night got worse when Dwight McNeil was taken off on a stretcher late on after falling over Jarrad Branthwaite’s leg as the duo looked to clear the ball.
The Blues’ efforts were applauded at full-time, however, by the superb and vocal 4,000 Evertonians who had packed out the away end at Selhurst Park.
The two sides will now do battle again in the third round replay at Goodison in the week commencing 15 January.
Seamus Coleman, Arnaut Danjuma and Joao Virginia all started as the three changes to Everton's XI from the Premier League contest at Wolverhampton Wanderers five days earlier.
As Coleman took the captain’s armband, the tie represented his 14th FA Cup campaign for the Blues, equalling Jack Taylor's Club record for an outfielder set between 1896 and 1910.
The right-back also moved on to 412 appearances for Everton to put him two behind Tim Howard in 14th in the Toffees’ all-time list.
Meanwhile, Virginia replaced Jordan Pickford between the sticks for the Portuguese’s first start since the FA Cup tie at home to Manchester City in March 2021.
In torrential rain in south London, Everton started the contest brighter, Jack Harrison playing a more central role in attack, with Danjuma wide left and McNeil on the right.
It was Danjuma who saw plenty of the ball early on, pumping in a succession of crosses from the left byline that narrowly evaded Calvert-Lewin inside the area.
The first chance arrived on 17 minutes as Calvert-Lewin’s clever turn on the edge of the box allowed him space to slide a through ball into the feet of Danjuma, the forward drilling a low finish that hit Clyne and looped into the side netting.
The Blues threatened again moments later when Garner sprayed a sublime crossfield ball out wide right for the second time in quick succession, only for Coleman to overhit his centre.
And it was so nearly 1-0 on 20 minutes as Harrison’s precise through ball played in Danjuma, the loanee moving inside the area and seeing his rising shot tipped over the bar by Dean Henderson.
As the tie sparked into life, Palace were awarded a free-kick 20 yards out when James Tarkowski was adjudged to have brought down 19-year-old Brazilian forward Matheus Franca - but Everton breathed a sigh of relief as Eberechi Eze lofted the resulting set piece over the bar.
It was the hosts’ turn to worry just before the half-hour mark, Garner’s low corner whistling past two Palace bodies before Henderson needed to be alert to kick the ball away as it looked to squeeze over the line.
After the first lull in proceedings, Palace had their best chance of the opening half with 39 minutes on the clock when the dangerous Eze rolled a pass across the area for Jefferson Lerma to smack a thunderous first-time finish inches over the bar.
The Blues responded well moments later, the home side failing to clear McNeil’s deep cross and Garner connecting with a low shot from 15 yards out that was deflected clear by Joachim Andersen’s outstretched leg.
No changes for either side at the break, it was Palace who knocked on the door first following the restart, the impressive Franca passing inside to Eze for the England international to unleash a powerful shot that Virginia did well to turn behind for a corner.
Another dip in action followed before, from nowhere just past the hour, Calvert-Lewin pounced on a ricochet from a McNeil challenge to sprint towards goal but, looking to finish from a tight angle, the striker’s low shot was too close to Henderson as the keeper gathered.
Minutes later, Onana headed over from eight yards out following good work by Tarkowski to nod McNeil’s deep corner back across goal.
As the final 20 minutes approached, Everton started to take a stranglehold on the tie, Harrison turning and dragging his 20-yard drive wide of the right-hand post.
Palace manager Roy Hodgson responded by making the first changes of the match, Tayo Adaramola and Will Hughes coming on for Franca and Jeffrey Schlupp.
But it was Everton who threatened again soon after, Calvert-Lewin getting a touch to Onana’s threaded ball inside the area and Danjuma collecting the ball to drive his strike straight at Henderson.
Then came another controversial moment against the Blues. Calvert-Lewin tracked back 25 yards from Palace’s goal and put a slide challenge in on Clyne to win the ball, with no foul being given. The defender went down needing treatment and, to the bemusement of most inside Selhurst Park, an announcement was made that VAR was checking for a possible red card on Everton’s No.9.
Worse was to come as referee Chris Kavanagh was called over to the monitor and, inevitably, decided to dismiss Calvert-Lewin despite the striker’s challenge in no way looking reckless.
Like they have done in recent weeks, Everton responded well to the harsh treatment and nearly found a deserved winner seven minutes from time, Beto - who had come on for Danjuma following Calvert-Lewin’s sending-off - slid a teasing low pass into the area, only for Garner to smash a first-time finish over the bar from 12 yards out.
And a finish Dyche’s side didn’t deserve was dealt another blow late on when McNeil was taken off on a stretcher after he landed awkwardly having tripped over Jarrad Branthwaite’s outstretched leg.
Everton’s efforts were, rightly, applauded by their passionate fans at full-time, though, with the Blues now preparing for a replay at the Grand Old Lady later this month.