Seamus Coleman proved to be Carlo Ancelotti’s hero as Everton were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Crystal Palace on Monday night.
The Toffees had a host of chances to put distance between themselves and Roy Hodgson’s visiting Eagles, but a sole strike from James Rodriguez proved to be all the Blues could convert on the Colombian’s return from a calf injury.
Ancelotti’s men were made to pay for their string of missed opportunities entering the final five minutes of regulation time, as Michy Batshuayi capitalised on Everton backing off to drill the ball home past Robin Olsen.
Everton will rue dropping two points at home to Crystal Palace in a blow to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, with a top-four place now out of their control despite retaining a game in hand over all sides above them in the table.
Ancelotti will need to see his side improve their home form if the Toffees are to claim a European berth, with Monday’s result seeing the Italian’s outfit fail to win when scoreless at the break for the seventh time in succession across all competitions.
Only Fulham (10), Sheffield United (10), West Bromwich Albion (11), Brighton & Hove Albion (13) and Newcastle United (17) have also claimed fewer Premier League points when playing at home this term than Everton (18).
The Blues may have snapped their unwanted recent record at Goodison Park had Coleman still been on the field when Batshuayi pulled the Eagles level, having ghosted in behind the ball-watching Michael Keane while Ben Godfrey was too far away to react to the danger.
Ancelotti had replaced Coleman with Godfrey with a quarter of an hour left on the clock as a likely precaution, after the £6.5m-rated gem played all 270 minutes for the Republic of Ireland over the international break.
Yet Coleman’s run of matches failed to drain the 32-year-old’s fuel tank, with the Liverpool Echo’s Adam Jones noting on Twitter: “He’s put in a huge shift today.”
Coleman also delivered a key role in Rodriguez breaking the deadlock early in the second-half for his sixth Premier League goal of the season, having been calm on the ball to pick out the ex-Real Madrid maestro entering the box.
Crystal Palace gave Coleman all the time in the world to pick out a teammate after Vicente Guaita could only push Gylfi Sigurdsson’s shot along the byline, and teed up Rodriguez to rifle a right-footed effort into the bottom corner.
Rodriguez’s goal marked one of three chances Coleman created on Monday night, which was the most by any player for either side at the time of his substitution and remained a joint game-high by the full-time whistle, per WhoScored.
Coleman further made two successful tackles for a joint team-high over the full 90 minutes, to match his average 1.8 per Premier League game for the season on top of eclipsing his average 0.6 key passes.
Ancelotti will undoubtedly have been impressed by Coleman’s performance, especially considering his involvement in the March internationals, while Olsen blotted his copybook after a strong showing between the posts before Batshuayi’s equalising goal.
Olsen produced a number of comfortable saves to deny Eberechi Eze, Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew on his return from an abdominal injury, but arguably left too much of the far post for Batshuayi to aim at.