Gravesen clips Eagles' wings
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Everton came from behind to claim a much needed 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace.Crystal Palace were dealt a harsh dose of Premiership reality after Everton came from behind to earn a 3-1 victory at Selhurst Park.
The Eagles started brightly and moved ahead through Mark Hudson but were left to rue a succession of missed chances.
A brace from Thomas Gravesen, the game's outstanding performer, and a late Marcus Bent strike clinched victory for a more streetwise Everton outfit.
Palace can take several positives from the game, but manager Iain Dowie will know his side must learn from their errors, and quickly, if they are to have any chance of survival.
The hosts edged ahead on nine minutes; Wayne Rouledge danced past Gary Naysmith and flighted an inviting ball to the far post which central defender Hudson met with a firm downward header leaving Nigel Martyn with no chance.
Everton nearly produce an instant response, Kevin Kilbane flights a lofted diagonal ball into the path of Bent who held off Popovic but could only steer his effort over.
Palace should have doubled their advantage on the quarter hour mark. Dougie Freedman caught the Everton backline square with a slide-rule ball to Andy Johnson who rounded Martyn but saw his subsequent shot cleared off the line by the retreating Alan Stubbs.
The hosts were left to rue the miss just five minutes later after a blunder of monumental proportions from goalkeeper Julian Speroni. There seemed no danger when the ball was played back to the Argentine by Tony Popovic but, after delaying his clearance, he attempted to dribble around Kevin Campbell and was not only dispossessed but then felled the striker as he tried to atone for his error.
Referee Mark Clattenburg had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Gravesen coolly converted low to Speroni's left.
Only some desperate last-ditch defending by Emerson Boyce prevented first Kilbane, and then Leon Osman from clear-cut shooting opportunities on 25 minutes.
However, the Palace full back then showed his prowess in the opposing half by providing a pinpoint cross for Johnson but the striker's effort was blocked by Joseph Yobo.
Johnson had another sight of goal shortly afterwards following another deft touch from Freedman, but his shot from the edge of the box lacked the power to trouble Martyn.
Palace came agonisingly close to restoring their lead just before the half time whistle when Freedman hooked inches over the bar after Martyn could only deflect a right-wing corner into his path.
It was Johnson who had the first opportunity of the second period but the livewire striker could get no power on a header from Aki Rihilaahti's lofted pass.
Speroni went some way to atoning for his earlier error when he produced a fine save to tip Bent's stinging first-time volley away for a corner. The hit-man had latched on to substitute Duncan Ferguson's flick on the edge of the box before firing goalwards.
The effort seemed to galvanise the visitors who began to enjoy their best period of the game.
They made the dominance count on 62 minutes when Gravesen claimed his second of the afternoon with a superb curling finish. The Palace defence backed off the Danish international on the edge of the box and Gravesen needed no second invitation to unleash a measured effort into the top corner.
Boyce then wasted a real chance to restore parity by putting a free header over the bar from Routledge's right-wing free kick, while at the other end Speroni saved at point-blank range from Bent.
Naysmith, booked in the first half, was then given his marching orders 20 minutes from time after a cynical block on Routledge.
Palace surged forward in search of an equaliser, and thought they should have been awarded the chance to draw level from the spot ten minutes from time when Tony Hibbert appeared to impede Johnson as he closed on goal.
Their protests were waved away and to rub salt into the wound Everton broke to claim a killer third goal.
Gravesen was again at the heart of the move clipping a ball through to send Bent clear and the former Palace star slotted under the advancing Speroni to kill the game.
The third goal was cruel on Dowie's side, but Everton's Premiership experience ultimately told and they held on comfortably to claim their first away league victory in 2004.
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|Team Name||Crystal Palace||Everton|
|Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||9||8|
|Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||5||7|
|Total Fouls Conceded||7||18|
| || || |