February 21, 2024

Everton scraped past Crystal Palace yesterday afternoon, but fans will not care much about the manner in which they are gaining three points.


Wins are of paramount importance to a side that has twice suffered relegation battles in recent years, and with the one just claimed over the Eagles, an eight-point gap has now been established between themselves and the drop.


Sean Dyche consistently references changing the story regarding his Toffees, who have been tirelessly called into question during these darker days. At last they seem to be answering them with ease, allowing a feel-good factor to creep back into Goodison Park.


However, things could have been all different had it been the hosts who took the lead to make it 2-1, with Eberechi Eze seeking to sneak a second penalty having won and converted one earlier in the match.


Dancing around the outside of Amadou Onana on the byline, he scooped the ball infield and threw himself over Jarrad Branthwaite’s outstretched boot. The referee, who was taking charge of just his fourth Premier League affair, came to the conclusion that the trickster had dived, booking him for simulation.


However, speaking on BBC’s Match of the Day, pundit Jermaine Jenas thought he was harshly punished: ‘I agree with Roy, I think there’s contact here.


‘I’m always of the opinion that, when defenders go flying in like this, if they make contact then the penalty should be given. I think Branthwaite goes diving in, I think Onana catches him as well. I think there’s enough contact for Eze to go down… I just don’t think he dives.’


Even host and former Everton striker Gary Lineker would offer his verdict, suggesting: ‘I think it was probably a penalty, I think he probably touched him.’


Should Crystal Palace have had a second penalty vs Everton?
Although it would be easy to say that VAR standing by the on-field decision is conclusive, history has dictated that the officials in Stockley Park are prone to the occasional blunder.


However, on this occasion it was probably the right move, given there was very minimal contact between the 21-year-old defender who had conceded the earlier penalty.

Going to ground did not help his case, but numerous angles showcase a lack of conclusive evidence that suggests Branthwaite halted Eze’s run, especially given the Palace maestro had overrun the ball anyway.


It seemed like a desperate attempt to receive a reward for his good play that had led to that moment, but in the end, just ended up putting him on a tightrope for the rest of the clash.


Perhaps a more appropriate debate could be over the three fouls he later committed, perhaps leaving him fortunate to avoid a red card.


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