BY SAM SMITH
Crystal Palace started the 2019-20 Premier League season by earning a point in a goalless draw against Everton.
The Toffees, who were reduced to 10 men 14 minutes from time after Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off, were the better side and created the chances of better value. But this was by no means a poor performance by Roy Hodgson’s side, who had their best chance when Jordan Ayew raced through on goal but failed to beat Jordan Pickford.
Hodgson named the same team that was comfortably beaten 4-0 in their final pre-season outing. All three of their outfield summer signings made the bench, while Wilfried Zaha – the subject of a bid from the Merseyside outfit and a transfer request in the summer transfer window – was also in reserve for the Palace boss.
Everton should have led inside two minutes when Gylfi Sigurdsson found himself in space but side-footed wide under no pressure. Ten minutes later Christian Benteke did well to block a goal-bound Richarlison effort following a clever corner routine.
Palace were growing in confidence but it was Everton who were the more threatening. Patrick van Aanholt did well to block a Seamus Coleman effort after the ball had fallen loose, before Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed wide. Had the Toffees forward left the ball, Richarlison would have tapped in Bernard’s cross.
The Eagles struggled to create much going forward in the first half but almost had the lead just before half-time. Max Meyer found himself in space inside the penalty area but his shot was charged down by Coleman. Scott Dann’s header from the resultant corner hit the back of the unwitting Morgan Schneiderlin.
Marco Silva’s side continued to be the more potent team in the second half. Van Aanholt kept the Toffees out once again on 55 minutes, this time with a goal-line clearance to deny a close-range Sigurdsson volley.
But Pickford was then forced to make sure his side did not rue their missed opportunities. The England goalkeeper first denied Ayew who went through on goal and tried to sidefoot beyond the shotstopper, before making a good save to deny Meyer from a similar opportunity.
Zaha replaced the impressive Ayew just before the hour, but a wayward Luka Milivojevic pass instantaneously gifted Richarlison a chance – only for the Brazilian to curl wide from 20 yards.
The Palace substitute had an effort blocked before Everton were reduced to 10 men on 76 minutes. Schneiderlin had harshly been booked in the first half for an innocuous challenge on Ayew, but his second yellow card was for a far more malicious foul on Milivojevic and Jon Moss had no other option but to show the Frenchman a red card.
The South Londoners finished strongly against their numerically inferior opposition. Zaha did well to beat Lucas Digne and fire in a cross, which Pickford eventually clutched as both sides settled for an opening day point.
PICTURES BY KEITH GILLARD