Jan 312015

Romelu Lukaku’s goal after less than two minutes was enough for Everton FC to win for the first time in nine matches.

The Blues had not won since the middle of December but Lukaku’s bundled effort in the opening stages ended their torrid run of form.

Victory at Selhurst Park has put a bit of breathing space between Everton and the bottom three in the Premier League with the gap to Hull City in 18th now seven points.

But Roberto Martinez’s side were indebted to superb performances from centre-half pairing Phil Jagielka and John Stones who defended stoically throughout as Palace dominated large periods of the game but were unable to break the Blues down.

The travelling fans chanted Lukaku’s name at the final whistle after his early goal proved the difference.

Steven Naismith was a constant menace for the home side and his dangerous cross was palmed into Lukaku’s path by goalkeeper Julian Speroni.

Everton were forced into some last-ditch defending soon after taking the lead and had Jagielka and Stones to thank for vital clearances.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez on the touchline VIEW GALLERY

First, the Blues captain hooked Dwight Gayle’s effort off the line before Stones blocked Yaya Sanogo’s goal-bound shot.

Palace were piling on the pressure but Everton, albeit unconvincingly at times, withstood the attacks to keep their lead intact.

Martinez’s men should have taken a more handsome advantage in with them at half-time but Naismith blazed over after Lukaku’s pull back and then the Belgian wasted a fine chance, overrunning the ball after the pair had linked up to great effect once again.

As expected, Palace emerged for the second-half with intent and pressed the Blues with greater intensity.

Everton started sloppily after the break and once again were forced to defend stoically as the home side cranked up the pressure.

The Blues, though, soaked it up and led by a towering performance from Jagielka they remain ahead.

Chances to double their lead were few and far between but Lukaku went agonisingly close to making it 2-0 as he connected with Aiden McGeady’s ball across the six yard box.

The club record signing was unable to get sufficient contact as he slid in but Speroni was forced into a flying save late on as McGeady curled an effort on goal.

As the game entered the final five minutes Lukaku had a glorious chance to put the game to bed but after collecting Naismith’s pass he fired his shot into the side netting.

The closing stages were tense as Palace continued to pour forward in hope of finding the equaliser.

McGeady then took his turn to waste a chance but it mattered little as Everton saw out the game to pick up a sorely needed win.

Palace: (4-4-2): Speroni, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly (Zaha 65), Puncheon, McArthur, Ledley, Gayle, Chamakh (Mutch 25), Sanogo (Murray 71). Subs: Hennessey, Mariappa, Hangeland, Campbell.

Goals: None

Yellow cards: None

Red cards: None

Everton: (4-2-3-1): Robles, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, Besic, Barry, McGeady, Naismith, Mirallas (Oviedo 68), Lukaku (Kone 90). Subs: Griffiths, Gibson, Distin, BArkley, Alcaraz.

Goals: Lukaku (2)

Yellow cards: Oviedo, Robles, Lukaku

Red cards: None

Referee: R East

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 Posted by at 5:11 pm

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