A Belgian Affair as Everton Held by Palace

 

Everton missed the chance to move second in the Premier League as they were held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Crystla Palace at Goodison Park.

The hosts led when Romelu Lukaku curled a 20-yard free-kick over the Palace wall and into the top-right corner.

Palace improved after the break, levelling when Benteke met Joel Ward’s cross with a towering far-post header.

The visitors almost claimed a fourth straight win but Damien Delaney’s header was ruled out for offside.

The point was enough to move the Toffees up to third place, four points behind leaders Manchester City, though the rest of the weekend’s top-flight fixtures are still to be played.

The Eagles, who continued their recent revival after taking just one point from their opening three matches, remain seventh.

There was some debate over the free-kick from which Everton scored, awarded after Delaney – making his 600th career appearance – raised his boot as he tried to clear a loose ball.

The ball hit Everton captain Phil Jagielka’s raised arms but referee Jonathan Moss penalised the Palace defender, awarding a free-kick that Lukaku converted with a sublime strike.

Everton and Palace rely on burly Belgians to spearhead their attacks, so it was no surprise to see both Lukaku and Benteke on the scoresheet.

The pair are battling for Belgium’s number nine shirt and there was little to choose between them at Goodison Park.

While Koeman has told Lukaku that he must press opposing defences more, his finishing is clinical – and he again demonstrated his ability by bending in his fifth goal in three Premier League matches.

But former Liverpool striker Benteke was not to be outdone.

The £27m summer signing has provided a much-needed physical presence up front for Palace, and used his aerial ability to pull his side level.

He showed intelligence to peel off Jagielka and move to the far post, where he rose above Seamus Coleman to direct a wonderful header into the opposite corner.

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