Tim Howard suffered a day to forget as Crystal Palace came from behind to beat Everton 3-2 in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday.
The United States goalkeeper made a string of impressive saves in Thursday's 4-1 victory over Wolfsburg in the UEFA Europa League, but he was at fault for Palace's first two goals at Goodison Park. Romelu Lukaku had given the hosts an early lead, but Howard's foul on James McArthur allowed Mile Jedinak to equalise from the penalty spot. The American’s day got worse in the second half as he was beaten to a high ball by Fraizer Campbell, before Yannick Bolasie's calm finish increased Palace's advantage.
The visitors were forced to endure a nervy final seven minutes after Leighton Baines converted from the spot, but Palace held on to seal a 3-2 victory at Goodison Park for the second season in succession. It was also their maiden league win of the campaign, and lifted the south London club off the bottom to 15th in the table. For Roberto Martinez's men, it was a second consecutive home league defeat in what has been an inconsistent start to the 2014/15 campaign.
Neil Warnock made three alterations from the 0-0 draw with Burnley last weekend, but initially the changes failed to have the desired effect as Everton began the match in dominant fashion. After a period of sustained possession, Everton carved out an opening for full debutant Christian Atsu in the eighth minute, but the Ghana winger on loan from Chelsea could only fire into the side-netting after rounding Julian Speroni.
Palace's respite was only brief, however, as Leon Osman, one of four changes from Thursday, played a delicate through-ball into the path of Lukaku, who burst forward into space and slotted low beyond Speroni. Osman was in the action again in the 29th minute, this time shooting too close to the goalkeeper after being teed up by Atsu.
Everton were left to rue that miss as Palace were level a minute later. Hesitancy between John Stones, Sylvain Distin and Howard allowed McArthur to nip in, and the midfielder was sent sprawling by the goalkeeper. Jedinak stepped up to send the resulting spot-kick into the top-right corner.
The visitors almost went ahead three minutes before the break when Bolasie's shot took a deflection off Stones and crashed back off the angle of post and crossbar.
Samuel Eto'o, making his first start for Everton, fired wide of the target in the 50th minute before another Howard error gave Palace the lead in the 54th minute. The 35-year-old came to collect Martin Kelly's deep cross, but misjudged the flight of the ball, allowing Campbell to rise to head into the unguarded net.
Scott Dann's block on the line denied Lukaku an equaliser on the hour and that intervention proved crucial as Bolasie gave Palace breathing space with a composed finish after Jason Puncheon had robbed Osman.
Baines tucked home a penalty after Dann had fouled James McCarthy inside the area to set up a tense finish. But, despite Dann almost scoring past his own goalkeeper in stoppage time, Warnock's men held on to secure the first win of his second spell at the helm.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "It was a really strange game. We wanted to be sharp and we had to be bright on the ball because Crystal Palace are always really well defensively set up. I thought we were fantastic and the first 15 or 20 minutes were as good as we've played. We were controlling the game and looked fresh and scored a very good goal.
"I felt that at that point we lost a bit of intent and we didn't have that real drive about us to score that second goal, which was all we needed. Leon Osman had a good chance, if that goes in, it's game over. Then the penalty is an incredible reward for Crystal Palace. It's a long ball from Julian Speroni and we have to deal a lot better with it.
"That allowed Crystal Palace to have a lot of belief, and it forces a couple of errors which are very uncharacteristic for us. The character was incredible. We kept fighting and creating chances and probably did enough to get something from the game but it's very disappointing in the manner we started the game that we couldn't wrap up the performance with three points.
"Today just shows that this league is ruthless. It's a 10-month competition and every game is difficult. We were perfect for 15 minutes and we needed that two-goal cushion."
Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock: "What pleased me was that Everton are a good side and we had to hang in there at times and put our head in and make tackles and blocks, and I like that kind of football."
|30 Nov 2014||v Spurs (A)|
|05 Oct 2014||v Man Utd (A)|
|15 Dec 2014||v QPR (H)|
|06 Dec 2014||v Man City (A)|
|09 Nov 2014||v Sunderland (A)|
|22 Nov 2014||v West Ham (H)|