Damilola Aina, Abuja
Daily Courier – Everton have sealed their Premier League survival after mounting a dramatic second half comeback to claim a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park in a five-goal thriller.
Everton’s hopes of sealing Premier League survival with a game left to go looked to be in tatters at the break against Crystal Palace, after a controversy filled first half left the Toffees facing a final day battle to stave off relegation.
Frank Lampard’s side headed into their final home game of the campaign at Goodison Park knowing that victory would ensure their place in the top-flight next season and leave Burnley and Leeds scrapping to avoid the final spot in the bottom three.
Things looked bleak when Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew made it 2-0 within 36 minutes shortly after avoiding red for a dangerous challenge on Anthony Gordon. The hosts stormed back in the second half to win 3-2, though, and keep their place in the top-flight.
But conjuring up a fighter’s spirit once more and spurred on by their vociferous support, Everton turned the game around in the second half, thanks to a more attacking approach.
Nine minutes after the break Michael Keane smashed in to give Frank Lampard’s side hope, and when Richarlison found the bottom corner with a miscued shot with 15 minutes left, it sent Goodison Park into raptures as a precious point looked likely.
Yet the best was to come with five minutes left. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who scored his first goal since August against Brentford last Sunday during an injury-hit season, sparked pandemonium with a diving header from Demarai Gray’s free-kick.
The excitement boiled over as fans descended on the pitch to celebrate, with blue mist shrouding the stadium as smoke flares were let off.
The crucial result avoided the kind of final-day nerves that Everton fans had to experience in 1998 and 1994, where the team also preserved their Premier League status.
Reacting after the game, goal scorer. Michael Keane said the team had always believed for the impossible, he said, “We have come back from 2-0 before. If we got that early goal our fans would take us there. We always spoke about keeping that belief,”
“Our fans were unbelievable and I’ve never heard anything like it. Pure relief, it has been a hard season but so proud how the club has come together the last six weeks and a platform we need to build on and make sure it never happens again.
“I am buzzing for Dom, it has been a tough period but he has shown his commitment and his quality.
“We know this is something we never want to happen again. But you can’t help but get caught up in the emotion. A special moment.
The Toffees will now be in the top-flight for a 69th consecutive campaign, with only Arsenal currently on a longer run of consecutive seasons.