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February 19 2018 4.04am

Player ratings: Everton v Palace

February 11 2018

Christian Benteke

Christian Benteke

Crystal Palace were soundly beaten by a Sam Allardyce side for the first time since he left the club. Mike Scott rates the players in this Everton defeat...

Goodison Park was host to the first meeting of two ex-England managers since 2004, with Big Sam getting one over against Hodgson as his Everton side took advantage of errors at the back to score three in the first half an hour of the second half to win 3-1. This all meant that Palace’s much discussed record of not winning without Zaha in the best part of 18 months is still in tact...

Wayne Hennessey - 5

The club’s only fit keeper now, Hennessey had a similar game to Newcastle in that he went long periods totally untested, with the home side getting a ton of possession in the first half but only forcing one save, a good stop from a fizzing, difficult long range effort from Idrissa Gana Gueye. For the goals, he couldn’t do a great deal and the frustration with his back four was written all over his face.

Again, like at St James Park, he was guilty of some wasteful long balls out, including a free-kick he launched over the head of Van Aanholt out of touch that just about summed up Palace’s afternoon. A couple of occasions too, he looked to be in two minds over whether to come out for balls crossed in; with five minutes to go it could have been 4-1 after he misjudged a ball floated over the edge of the six-yard area.

Joel Ward - 6

Back in the side alongside his usual rival for the right back position Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Ward looked, at times, just as sharp as he did before his untimely injury. He started well, overpowering Tom Davies early on to kill an Everton attack down the flank. As the half went on, he looked assured and knocked behind a very menacing cross from Gylfi Sigurusson that was a tap-in for oncoming Everton players if he missed it. In the second half, none of the back line stood out and he wasn’t able to get anywhere near Cuco Martina as he set up the home side’s second.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah - 5

A frustrating training ground injury to Sakho after just one half of football since his return left Hodgson with no choice but to put Fosu-Mensah central and give Ward a return start. The Dutchman clearly doesn’t feel as comfortable in the middle; he did well enough in the first half, although brought down Theo Walcott for a free-kick in a very dangerous area which set Palace fans’ hearts racing as they saw Sigurusson step forward to have a go and prove that he always ups his game against us.

Fosu-Mensah was at fault for not helping clear Tomkins’ misjudged header that resulted in the opening goal; his second half didn’t get much easier from there. For Everton’s third, he just switched off and expected Hennessey to keep hold of the ball, allowing two Everton players to get to the rebound before him.

James Tomkins - 6

Considering Palace were punished badly for errors at the back, Tomkins had a decent enough game for the most part. It was his failed clearance that led to the opener, but before that he had done well in the first half, knocking two menacing free kicks out for corners from the wall and clearing from a worrying corner. It perhaps looked as though the forced changes and unexpected central pairing caused confusion, with Tomkins and Fosu-Mensah being separated regularly after the break, leaving gaps that Palace have rarely left under Hodgson.

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Patrick van Aanholt - 5

Like his teammates at the back, Van Aanholt will be kicking himself that he ruined an alright afternoon with a couple of moments of ill-disciple. As inevitable as it was that Oumar Niasse would score, it was made a lot easier for him by Van Aanholt giving him a good five yards of space unmarked in the box to slot home Everton’s second.

Again, going forward Van Aanholt looked like a good outlet, delivering a beautiful cross that saw Alexander Sørloth go close to scoring on his debut with his head. In fact, the cover and link-up between the two men all afternoon was one of the few highlights for the away side.

Luka Milivojevic - 6

Palace’s goal scorer with another unstoppable penalty, the Serbian had a tough afternoon against a five-man Everton midfield packed with quality. Both Walcott and Sigurusson got between Luka as holding midfielder and the defence much more often than most sides have this season and the Palace midfield had few answers to the relentless possession that bypassed them on plenty of occasions. As the third goal went in, he looked utterly resigned to the fact it was simply not the visitors’ afternoon.

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Yohan Cabaye - 6

The Frenchman had a great opportunity to score early on after an Eliaquim Mangala mistake saw the Everton defender leave Jordan Pickford stranded out of his box. Cabaye struck one from 45 yards but it was always curling away from goal. He had another promising long-range effort half an hour later knocked out for a corner by the England keeper. In general, his threat going forward made up for the fact that Palace hardly had any corners or free kicks for him to work with. However, like Milivojevic, he struggled to cope with the quality of Everton’s midfield and relentless possession; considering the running he had to do without the ball, it’s a surprise he managed the whole game.

James McArthur - 5

This was a really difficult afternoon for the Scotsman, who struggled to make an impact or deal with a rampaging Theo Walcott. He committed a couple of fouls in worrying areas, including one on Niasse right in front of goal that, luckily, was deflected out by a leaping Tomkins. The worry may be for Hodgson that other teams will see that flooding the midfield froze out McArthur and others and will follow suit..

Andros Townsend - 5

Townsend did find himself in plenty of promising positions, up against Everton’s makeshift left back Martina, although there was still a lack of crosses in from the right considering the height Palace had up front in the form of the two target men. As ever, he put in a shift at the back, although it was Martina who turned him inside out to set up the home side’s second. Unlike Sorloth, who was getting plenty of service from Van Aanholt, not a great deal of Palace’s creative play was channelled over on the right, so he looked a little short on service to make those trademark runs.

Alexander Sorloth - 8

The Norway international will feel that he had a really strong debut, despite the result and not getting on the score sheet. He did his best to net on debut, having a powerful header parried behind by Jordan Pickford after Van Aanholt polished off a lovely move with an inch perfect cross. He put in some crosses, including one that Benteke headed down for Milivojevic to launch a 30-yard screamer early on. Just before half-time, he put a ball on Benteke’s head that looked for all the world like it earn him his first assist. At 2-0, he started a move that saw Cabaye knock in a cross that Benteke had no right to miss. He looked strong and pulled in players, drawing fouls down the left. Add to that his seeming work ethic - he put in a strong shift covering Van Aanholt, who he seemed to have a connection with - and this was one extremely encouraging first game.

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Christian Benteke - 5

The Belgian will still be in shock that again he did not manage to score. His miss at 2-0, when he managed to head the ball wide of the post when most away fans were already on their feet celebrating, will have hurt him even more than it hurt the red and blue faithful. Before that, he’d headed a cross just before half-time wide and had managed to bundle the ball in the net only to find out he’d carelessly drifted marginally offside as the ball came in. As ever, his hold-up play and flick-ons worked well, but he’ll be bitterly disappointed.

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