Amadou Onana came off the bench to rescue a crucial point for Everton in Monday night’s 1-1 Premier League draw at home to Crystal Palace.
In terms of a contest, it was far from a classic but Everton enjoyed the best of the chances and were unfortunate to have found themselves 1-0 behind midway through the second half when Palace’s Jordan Ayew fired a stunning strike into the top corner of Jordan Pickford’s net.
The Blues looked to be heading to a costly defeat before second-half substitute Onana rose highest in the 84th minute to nod home a crucial equaliser for the Blues.
Sean Dyche made just one change for the contest, with Abdoulaye Doucoure returning from a hamstring injury in place of Jack Harrison to make his first appearance since the Toffees’ 0-0 draw against Aston Villa last month. Seamus Coleman also missed out on the matchday squad.
Everton started the brighter of the two sides but struggled to carve open any meaningful efforts on goal during the opening exchanges and instead, it was the away side who had the game’s first shot as the game ticked into the 10th minute.
Jean-Philippe Mateta picked up the ball unmarked in the Everton half before finding Odsonne Edouard in the penalty area, the Palace striker’s low effort was tame and straight at Pickford but served as a warning for the Blues.
Minutes later returning Doucoure had his first sight of goal when he reacted quickest to a poor clearance from Palace captain Joel Ward. From the sliced attempt, the Everton midfielder struck a sweet volley from the edge of the penalty area that zipped just wide of Sam Johnstone’s left post.
The Blues were just starting to turn the screw as the half progressed and putting pressure on the visitors - data experts, Opta, reported all 10 of Crystal Palace's outfield players had been forced into at least one misplaced pass inside the opening 20 minutes of the game.
That pressure nearly delivered the game’s crucial opener when some tidy link-up play between Doucoure and McNeil released the winger down the left flank. He swung a menacing ball into the box where Calvert-Lewin rose highest, but the striker wasn't able to direct his header on target.
Everton were nearly forced to pay for their inability to capitalise on good early pressure when the away side launched a rare menacing counter-attack that cut the Blues wide open. Jordan Ayew’s sharp turn deep inside the Blues’ half gave him a yard of space to release Daniel Munaz lurking in the box, he teed up Edouard who blasted his effort well over the bar.
That chance sparked a change in momentum as the London side started to grow into the game and Ashley Young was forced to clear a Mateta header off the line from a corner.
Goodison started to grow anxious as the break approached, but thankfully, the Blues managed to steady the ship and see the half out with the game all level.
The Blues started the second half much brighter, with James Garner going close nine minutes after the restart. He received the ball on the edge of the Palace box but curled his resulting effort over the bar.
Pickford was called into action a minute later as he rushed off his line to deny Tyrick Mitchell who broke free in the penalty area to go one-against-one with the Blues’ shot-stopper.
The half ebbed and flowed with neither side really able to take control until Everton went close again on the hour-mark when Vitalii Mykolenko's volley looked to be finding the bottom corner, but for Ward’s outstretched leg.
Soon after, the Blues’ had a flurry of chances in a short space of time that somehow didn’t put them ahead. First Tarkowski saw his header from a corner palmed away towards Gana who drove a shot low and hard, it deflected towards Doucoure unmarked from six yards out, but he didn’t get enough of his touch to direct the ball goalwards and it looped into the air, just evading an attempted diving header from Ben Godfrey.
On top, Dyche made proactive attacking changes to try and secure a deserved opener, with Jack Harrison and Amadou Onana replacing Young and Gana. However, just seconds after the changes disaster struck as Palace took the lead.
From inside the Everton half. Mateta laid the ball to Ayew who, from what seemed an innocuous position, produced a stunning strike that flew past Pickford and into the top corner of Everton’s net.
In need of a fast response, Dyche added another attacker to the ranks with Beto joining the action in place of Doucoure and Everton started to pin Palace in their own half.
They should have really been level as we approached the final 10 minutes. A great McNeil cross found Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the edge of the six-yard box but his headed effort bounced wide.
Two minutes later a knockdown from Everton's No.9 in the box found Garner who fired goalward but Johnstone got two strong hands on the effort to push it away for a corner. Then, from the resulting set-piece, Everton finally drew level. The excellent cross from Garner was met by a powerful Onana header to spark Goodison into life.
It was all one-way traffic after that, with Tarkowski nearly completing the turnaround with three minutes of normal time remaining, but he headed the ball over from another tantalising McNeil delivery.
From there, the visitors held on to travel back down south with a point.