Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew savoured his side gatecrashing the Premier League’s top six after an exhilarating draw against sharpshooters Everton at Goodison Park last night.
In-form striker Romelu Lukaku secured a share of the spoils for the hosts inside the final 10 minutes by cancelling out Scott Dann’s headed opener, as Palace dropped points from a winning position for the first time this season.
Lukaku’s strike was his 50th for the Merseyside club while the 22-year-old, who also struck the woodwork twice, became the first Everton player to score in five successive Premier League matches.
Palace have now chalked up 31 points on the road since Pardew’s appointment in January – only Arsenal have more in the top flight – and moved sixth in the table, as Everton, with only two wins in their last eight league matches, jumped to ninth.
“We go sixth and that was the prize for us and that’s what we’ve won and we deserved it. It tells me we have lots of qualities in the team,” said Pardew.
“This team have produced an honest display which they always do. I never question their commitment. Little bits of quality could have been better but overall it was a cracking game.
“It was a fair result because we showed all our qualities away from home: discipline, doggedness and quality on the break. We came across a team that was in top, top form and we still almost won.”
Palace had triumphed on three of their last four visits to Goodison Park, winning the previous two encounters 3-2, and threatened in the 16th minute as Connor Wickham’s diving header was repelled by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
The Toffees, who had notched seven goals in their last two league games, came closest to scoring during an enterprising first-half as Lukaku thumped a left-footed effort against Palace stopper Wayne Hennessey’s post.
Flying winger Yannick Bolasie was denied by the outstretched leg of Howard 10 minutes after the restart, while the open nature of the contest continued throughout the second period.
Wickham inadvertently headed against his own crossbar from Ross Barkley’s inswinging free-kick shortly before the hour mark, and moments later Hennessey tipped over a ferocious volley from Tom Cleverley.
Howard palmed behind a Jason Puncheon drive, only for the winger’s subsequent corner to be powered home by Dann, who towered above Gareth Barry, while moments later Lukaku volleyed against the crossbar.
The Belgian had his goal moments later as he tapped home Gerard Deulofeu’s measured cross, which was touched by Barry as he attempted a dummy, from inside the six-yard box.