Ten-man Everton hold Crystal Palace to force FA Cup third-round replay

By Sports Desk January 04, 2024

Crystal Palace and Everton will replay their FA Cup third-round clash after their Selhurst Park encounter ended in a goalless draw.

The Toffees were down to 10 men after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was shown red for a challenge in the 79th minute of a contest that began under a south London downpour.

Those who braved the rain took in a largely uneventful first half that ended with a single shot on target for the visitors and none for the hosts.

Palace could not capitalise on the extra-man advantage through nine minutes of stoppage time, the visitors suffering a second-half blow when Dwight McNeil was carried off on a stretcher after sustaining what appeared to be a lower-leg injury.

Both Sean Dyche and Roy Hodgson fielded strong line-ups ,with three changes for Everton and two enforced swaps for Palace with Ghana international Jordan Ayew having already departed for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Teenage summer signing Matheus Franca made his long-awaited first start the hosts in place of  Michael Olise, back on Hodgson’s injured list with a hamstring issue sustained after netting twice in the Eagles’ 3-1 victory over Brentford.

It was Ayew’s replacement, Jeffrey Schlupp, who was the first to get a shot away, ultimately a simple save for Joao Virginia inside three minutes, and there were little in the way of chances as the contest entered its 20th minute.

Arnaut Danjuma, who had previously fired into the side-netting, came closer with his second attempt which Dean Henderson managed to turn behind with a good save.

Franca later found himself the sole blue shirt amidst a sea of grey, eventually taking a big hit from James Tarkowski to earn Palace a free-kick from a dangerous central position just outside the penalty area, wasted by Eberechi Eze who skied his attempt into the Holmesdale Stand.

Palace had their best opportunity to take the lead when Eze laid off to Jefferson Lerma, who might have taken more time, instead rifling a shot just over as half-time approached.

Everton enjoyed a spell inside the Eagles’ final third after the break, but it was Palace who had the better chances to break the deadlock, first through Eze then Lerma’s nodded effort, both saved by Virginia.

Calvert-Lewin sent a low effort straight at Henderson past the hour mark and a trio of Toffees corners shortly followed, Amadou Onana coming closest on the third but nodding high.

If anyone looked closer to an opener it was Everton with the slight edge, Henderson punching away McNeil’s chipped ball, then again denying Danjuma.

Hodgson’s side were emerging from a significant injury crisis when they beat Brentford, and there were more worrying scenes for the hosts when Nathaniel Clyne went down wincing following a tackle by Calvert-Lewin, who appeared to catch the Palace defender’s shin with his studs.

Referee Chris Kavanagh consulted the pitchside monitor, deeming the contact enough to dismiss the striker before James Garner skied a good chance.

Things went from bad to worse when McNeil was forced off with what appeared to be a lower-leg injury when he landed awkwardly after jumping over his team-mate whilst defending a corner and was eventually carried off on a stretcher.

Hodgson made several late changes, but none were able to make the impact needed.

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