Carlo Ancelotti has praised the spirit of his Everton team and the start they have made to the new season, one which has yielded five wins from five in all competitions thus far.
The Italian took his side to Selhurst Park this afternoon and came away with a 2-1 victory on the back of a performance that was long on graft, determination and resilience with a sprinkling of flair that made the difference on the day.
The aftermath has been dominated by the debate over the new regulations around defensive handball, the modified interpretation of which saw referee Kevin Friend overturn his original decision not to penalise Joel Ward for handball after watching a replay on the pitch-side monitor, but the Toffees were full value for the win.
James Rodriguez had a quiet afternoon but was instrumental in both Everton goals. Dropping off into space 10 yards outside the Palace box in the 10th minute, he delivered a beautiful reverse pass that Seamus Coleman latched onto before putting a goal on a platter for Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Then, five minutes before half-time, the Colombian’s sweeping cross-field ball was headed down by Lucas Digne, catching Joel Ward’s arm which was, eventually in Friend’s view, in an unnatural position and Richarlison dispatched the resulting spot-kick to restore the lead after Cheikhou Kouyaté had equalised.
The Toffees had to be on their mettle defensively at times in the second half but they successfully kept Palace at bay to record a third successive Premier League win.
“The performance was difficult. We had difficulties,” Ancelotti admitted in his post-match press conference. “The first half was quite good, we were able to play as we wanted. The second half was more difficult because Crystal Palace played a good second half putting a lot of pressure on us.
“We were not able to play with the ball as we wanted, but the spirit defensively was good. We worked hard, we left out the quality but the attitude defensively was good from all the players.
“I think that, if I have to judge the period, we did really well. We have a new squad, with new players, they adapted really well.
“The start of the season was fantastic, but I think we have to keep going, to think to the next game and try to improve and be focused. I’m really pleased for what we’ve done in this first period of the season.
“We have to look at the momentum and know that every game will be difficult. We have to keep the motivation we have shown on the pitch and ambition because we are doing really well but we have to know that the danger is behind us all the time.
“The spirit was fantastic but we have to keep going to try to improve where we have to and be focused there. I’m really pleased what we have done in this first period of the season.”
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If that was an off day today, I’ll take it as such, we can surely get better as we train more at Finch Farm, but not many teams will get away with much at Palace if they carry on as they have started.
Still think Bernard deserved a spell from the bench, the game was crying out in the later stages for something different, something Iwobi, after a fine display at Fleetwood, was expected to inject, but failed to produce after coming on.
Iwobi needs to just lean to pass the ball to the right player and learn triangles.
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