Everton 1-0 Crystal Palace: Gomes free-kick sends Toffees through

Everton midfielder Andre Gomes’ first Goodison Park goal in almost five years settled a dreary FA Cup third-round replay against Crystal Palace.

With the temperature sub-zero the match did little to animate the 37,796 hardy souls in attendance but Gomes’ strike — the Toffees’ first from a direct free-kick in 197 games in a run dating back to August 2019 – was the one real highlight.

Gomes’ long stretch without a goal on home soil went back even further than Lucas Digne’s set-piece against Lincoln in the Carabao Cup in August 2019 but it was worth the wait.

Initially fouled by Jeffrey Schlupp 25 yards out the Portuguese took responsibility and curled a sumptuous effort over the wall and in off the post.

After three matches without a goal it was very much worthy of securing Everton a first third-round victory over top-flight opposition since they beat Sheffield Wednesday in 1988.

Palace’s winter break meant they had a free fortnight from the original tie — itself a drab goalless draw — to prepare. Everton, whose own break was eaten into by this replay, had three days.

Manager Sean Dyche made four changes from Sunday’s goalless draw with Aston Villa but two were enforced — Seamus Coleman and Abdoulaye Doucoure were both carrying knocks – while he rested goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

His deputy Joao Virginia had arguably his best game in his five-year spell at the club with a string of good saves to keep a clean sheet.

Gomes was deployed in Doucoure’s position just behind the striker, bringing a more measured, less energetic approach which meant Dominic Calvert-Lewin was often left isolated.

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