Everton’s impressive start to the season is in danger of fizzling out. They avoided a third consecutive defeat here, but were only able to score through a set piece and Crystal Palace will be bitterly disappointed at seeing a perfectly valid potential winner wrongly chalked off in the second half.
The visitors were worth at least a point, playing a neat counterattacking game and coming back strongly after Everton had taken a first-half lead. Ronald Koeman said Everton would have to show more aggression and intensity if they were to return to second place in the table, and if that was the aim his players failed to produce.
Romelu Lukaku was too isolated to be effective after his goal direct from a free-kick, Yannick Bolasie did not stand out against his former club and Ross Barkley had another of his wayward days, being withdrawn before the end as Koeman looked for more penetration.
“When you are one nil up at home you expect to win, but Palace are tough, difficult opponents,” Koeman said. “It was a fair result, I was happy with the team performance, we just couldn’t find a final pass of sufficient quality.”
Everton were slightly fortunate to go ahead just past the half hour. There was nothing wrong with Lukaku’s left-foot curler from a free-kick on the edge of the area that left Steve Mandanda barely bothering to move, just a question of whether it should have been an Everton free-kick. Damien Delaney was a little harshly penalised for foot up on Phil Jagielka when the ball was just about at kickable height and he could not have been expecting his opponent to try to claim it with his head. While it was typically brave by the Everton captain it appeared Jagielka had also handled the ball in the act of protecting his face.