Everton have survived their desperate relegation battle and will remain in the Premier League next season after a disastrous campaign, but Frank Lampard and his team can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
It wasn’t a comfortable game for the Toffees by no means, but the manager will be proud of the resilience his team showed in the second half of the game to come back from 2-0 down against Crystal Palace to score three in the final 45 minutes at Goodison Park.
Despite being at home Everton had less possession (43%), fewer big chances and completed over 100 less accurate passes than Patrick Vieira’s side yesterday evening, but even without domination of the ball, the team took their chances when they needed to.
In the first half, the Toffees struggled to impose themselves on their visitors and started massively on the back foot which ultimately cost them when Jean-Philippe Mateta found the back of the net in the 21st minute but the first goal wasn’t enough to wake the home team up as they conceded a second 15 minutes later when Jordan Ayew scored to double Palace’s lead.
Lampard quickly realised that he needed to make some ruthless changes to his team if he was going to have any chance of securing safety ahead of the final game of the season, swapping out an uninspiring Andre Gomes for Dele Alli and that one change may have been the catalyst in changing Everton’s fate on Merseyside.
Michael Keane and Richarlison brought their team back into the game with goals in the second half, but it was Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s killer goal in the 85th minute that made every Blues supporter’s dreams come true, with a goal that has now saved Everton in their penultimate game of the campaign.
One player who deserves a huge amount of credit for the win tonight is Demarai Gray, who came on the pitch for Anthony Gordon in the 61st minute, a substitution that was worth its weight in gold.
The 25-year-old who was hailed a “game-changer” by former manager Gary Rowett proved just how effective he can be in important moments even with just 13 touches of the ball he made every single one count.
Gray won 100% of his ground duels, was successful in 100% of his dribble attempts, creating one big chance and making one key pass proving that although he didn’t make many touches he was effective in achieving what he was brought onto the pitch to do.
Lampard, the squad and the supporters will be massively relieved and overjoyed to have taken themselves out of the relegation fight ahead of the last day of the season, but now the club must focus on the future and there is some serious work to do to make sure they don’t fall into the same situation again next season.