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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Marco Silva rewarded for taking a risk as Everton claim late win over Crystal Palace

Portuguese manager's substitutions prove a masterstroke after scoring the goals to hand the hosts victory at Goodison Park

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored Everton's opening goal against Crystal Palace. Getty Images
Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored Everton's opening goal against Crystal Palace. Getty Images

Everton hired Marco Silva to be a catalyst, to offer more ideas and attacking intent. In the space of a few minutes, he did each, transforming a stalemate into a third successive league win with positive substitutions that yielded two goals and an assist.

The temptation is to assume Silva’s unloved, unambitious predecessor Sam Allardyce would have settled for a hard-fought point. If that is unprovable, it is indisputable that the progressive Portuguese was rewarded for taking a risk.

Having started without a specialist striker – winger Richarlison instead roving alone in attack – he introduced two. Both scored, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goal set up by his fellow replacement Ademola Lookman.

The England Under-21 internationals had only been on for five minutes when Lookman crossed and the strangely unmarked Calvert-Lewin provided an emphatic header.

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Then Cenk Tosun, introduced earlier, surged on to Michael Keane’s long pass to finish with renewed assurance.

“Sometimes you change and everything goes well, like happened this afternoon,” a smiling Silva said as Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, who lost 2-0 at Goodison Park in his ill-fated spell in charge of Liverpool, rued a similar scoreline. “It's hard to stand here as a loser again,” Hodgson said. “I could easily be a winner.”

It could have been very different. If Silva was one architect of victory, Jordan Pickford was the other. “We came across a goalkeeper in form who made two outstanding saves in the first half,” lamented Hodgson, though the best of the bunch came on the hour.

Pickford’s previous penalty save came from Colombia’s Carlos Bacca, setting up the historic feat of England winning a World Cup shootout. Three months later, another stop had a transformative effect.

“The penalty miss lifted the crowd and gave them fresh impetus going forward,” added Hodgson after Pickford used a trailing foot to block Luka Milivojevic’s spot kick. A painful afternoon for the Serb was completed when he was floored in a collision with teammate James Tomkins, but it offered the goalkeeper a suitable ending to a memorable week.

Pickford played a part in two of England’s goals in their win in Spain, while also escaping conceding a penalty with a Cruyff turn that went wrong. This was further evidence of his confidence and of Palace’s problems.

While they struck the woodwork for a fourth time, they remain rooted on five goals for the season – only Huddersfield Town have fewer – and while it has been a mantra that challenges on Wilfried Zaha have gone unpunished, Seamus Coleman was penalised for clipping the winger, marring the Irishman’s fine comeback from injury.

And for all Zaha’s menace, Palace’s clearest chances came from set-pieces. Cheikhou Kouyate thudded a header against the bar and Milivojevic drew a fine save from Pickford with a free kick, but their scoring problems persisted.

With Christian Benteke ineffectual even before he was injured, Hodgson had paired two wingers in attack in another side devoid of specialist strikers. They were too blunt.

Perhaps he was too passive, delaying his substitutions. “I didn't need to make any changes for 87 minutes,” Hodgson said.

Perhaps, though, Everton had greater options in reserve. “It is not just the 11 players,” said Silva. A side has been reshaped to accommodate his signings, but the decisive impacts came from the men he inherited and held back.

A banner in the Gwladys Street End celebrated the Brazilians Bernard and Richarlison, though the former was replaced after a wasteful display and each was ultimately overshadowed by understudies.

Wayne Hennessey had saved well from Gylfi Sigurdsson, another beneficiary of Silva’s appointment, and Theo Walcott but Palace were put under more pressure after Silva intervened.

Midfielder Andre Gomes, who had shown signs of both rustiness and class on a belated debut, was replaced by Calvert-Lewin. “We changed the formation,” said Silva. He changed the game.