Joel Robles produced an inspired performance as 10-man Everton held on for a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace in Wednesday’s Premier League encounter at Selhurst Park.
Alan Pardew’s men created numerous chances to open the scoring, with Dwight Gayle and Jason Puncheon in particular coming close, but they failed to beat the Everton shot stopper as he held out for his third clean sheet of the campaign.
Ross Barkley hit the crossbar but Everton’s attacking intent was stifled when James McCarthy was dismissed soon after, having collected his second yellow card.
The draw takes Palace further clear of the relegation zone. They are now 11 points above 18th-placed Sunderland with five games to play and appear safe after putting together a three-game unbeaten run to stop their 2016 rot, having snapped their 14-game run without a win against Norwich on Saturday.
Pardew opted for the pace of Gayle over Connor Wickham and Emmanuel Adebayor in attack, and another of Palace’s quick options, Yannick Bolasie, was the first to bring a save out of Joel.
Wilfried Zaha set up Gayle in a dangerous position shortly after as the hosts continued to push for the opener, only for the attacker to fire wide under pressure from John Stones.
Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey was called into action for the first time midway through the first half when Seamus Coleman volleyed straight at him after a fine cross from Leighton Baines.
Everton slowly grew into the game and Arouna Kone’s powerful shot from 20 yards went narrowly over the crossbar, before Hennessey pulled off a sublime save to deny Romelu Lukaku from close range.
Gayle’s acrobatic overhead kick went just wide at the far post, before Barkley was unfortunate not to break the deadlock in the 48th minute, beating Hennessey with his curled shot from the edge of the box, only to see his fine attempt hit the crossbar.
Everton’s chances were dealt a major blow three minutes later when referee Mike Jones showed McCarthy his second yellow card after bringing down Bolasie in midfield.
Puncheon should have opened the scoring after some good work from Mile Jedinak, but Joel showed his class with a superb save, and the Everton goalkeeper denied Joel Ward after Palace kept the move alive.
Yohan Cabaye curled wide as Palace began to press home their numerical advantage, but they found Joel too tough to beat and Puncheon – Saturday’s match-winner – saw another powerful effort saved.
Substitute Adebayor could have won it for Palace with a late header, but he could not hit the target as Pardew’s men were denied the chance to reach 40 points for the season.
Key Opta stats:
– Only one of the last 11 meetings in all competitions between these sides has ended with a home win (six away wins, four draws).
– Everton have now been shown 83 red cards in Premier League history – at least two more than any other side.
– After 12 games without a clean sheet in 2016, Crystal Palace have now kept a shutout in their last two Premier League fixtures.
– Everton have lost just two of their last 17 Premier League away games (W6 D9).
– The Toffees have scored just one goal in their last four Premier League games.
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