BY SAM SMITH
A harshly awarded penalty was the difference as Crystal Palace were beaten 2-1 by Everton at Selhurst Park.
It comes after a string of debatable spot-kicks awarded following a change to the handball rule in pre-season – including the one scored by the Eagles at Manchester United last weekend.
Cheikhou Kouyate capped an excellent individual goal midway through the first half, cancelling out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s opener.
But a penalty awarded dubiously for a handball by Joel Ward allowed Richarlison to convert the match-winning goal. The defeat ends Palace’s 100 per cent winning start to the new season.
Calvert-Lewin continued his own impressive campaign in the 10th minute, netting his fifth goal already so far.
Seamus Coleman laid off the ball to James Rodriguez who returned the pass to the Irishman, whose continued run had not been tracked properly by Tyrick Mitchell. Coleman raced to the byline and centred for Calvert-Lewin to steer into the net to hand the visitors the lead.
The Eagles had clearly targeted Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford at set-pieces and that tactic paid off on 26 minutes. Andros Townsend’s corner landed on the head of Kouyate inside the six-yard box, and the Senegalese powered home the equaliser.
But that was not the end of the scoring in an otherwise eventless first half, in which Everton led 2-1. Upon reviewing his pitch-side monitor, referee Kevin Friend awarded a penalty for a Joel Ward handball and Richarlison lifted the resultant spot-kick high into the net – despite Vicente Guaita diving the correct way.
The Eagles could argue that it was a slightly harsh penalty – Ward’s hands were hardly outstretched and the ball came at a considerable speed from a close distance, but it was similar to the one awarded in their favour against Manchester United last weekend.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side twice went close to scoring a third early in the second half. Calvert-Lewin somehow poked wide at a corner before Kouyate cleared another effort from just in front of goal.
The Eagles struggled to find a way back into the game. Kouyate’s goal was their only shot on target. Wilfried Zaha was successfully nullified by Yerry Mina. Eberechi Eze, handed his first Premier League start by Roy Hodgson, did well in the early stages before fading and being replaced by Michy Batshuayi.
The South Londoners continue their tricky start to the season with games against Chelsea and rivals Brighton up next, although six points from three points should be seen as a success for Hodgson’s side.
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