London (AFP) – Everton’s hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League were dented by Michy Batshuayi’s 86th minute equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw for Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Monday.
The Toffees were made to rue a string of missed chances either side of James Rodriguez’s opener as they only narrowly closed the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to four points.
Rodriguez’s return from injury for the first time since Everton ended a two-decade wait to beat Liverpool away in the Merseyside derby in February sparked a far more enterprising performance from Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
Vicente Guaita was forced into fine saves from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison in a dominant first-half display from the home side.
Rodriguez finally broke the deadlock 11 minutes into the second-half when he fired home Seamus Coleman’s cut-back for his 100th goal in European football.
Another two fine saves from Guaita denied Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin from doubling Everton’s advantage.
And that proved vital as Everton ultimately dropped points for the seventh time in eight home games.
Batshuayi had only been on the pitch two minutes when he latched onto Jeffrey Schlupp’s through ball to fire low beyond Robin Olsen.
A draw leaves Everton in eighth, three points adrift of Tottenham, Liverpool and West Ham, who can move into fourth with victory at Wolves later on Monday.
Palace remain in 12th, but look safe for another season in the top flight as the Eagles edge 11 points clear of the relegation zone.