Roy Hodgson was left rueing an ‘unstoppable’ Andre Gomes free-kick after Crystal Palace crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of Premier League rivals Everton.
Sean Dyche shuffled his pack ahead of the visit of Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, and one suspects the Toffees boss will have strolled home at full-time with a smile as wide as the River Mersey on his face, safe in the knowledge that Everton’s second string are not just making up the numbers.
Joao Virginia, on a rare start, made a number of superb saves as Palace banged on the door without ever breaking it down. Nathan Patterson, in for Seamus Coleman, was as solid and as reliable as we’ve come to expect from him.
Andre Gomes, meanwhile, produced a winner befitting of a midfielder who has represented Benfica, Barcelona, Valencia and the Portuguese national team, curling a sumptuous free-kick into the Eagles net late in the first-half.
Andre Gomes fires Everton past Crystal Palace
“All defeats are disappointing. I thought this was a game where we probably deserved better than a defeat. I thought that there were an awful lot of positives to our play,” former Liverpool boss Hodgson sighed following a frustrating return to Merseyside.
“I still think we were good value for a result here today. But we didn’t get it thanks to an excellent free-kick which Gomes played. That was unstoppable.”
Gomes, back in the Everton squad after a loan spell at Lille and a long-term injury, has now scored as many goals in his last five Toffees games as he managed in his previous four seasons at Goodison Park combined.
‘A very good player’
“He’s had a really up-and-down time with injuries,” Dyche tells Liverpool World. “When he came back, I only dealt with him in pre-season. But I said to him I can see him being part of what we do.
“Obviously, he was unsure at that time if he was going to be leaving or not. He’s here, he’s had injuries and been up and down with fitness. He’s still got to get true fitness but we know he can play. He’s a very good player and it’s finding the right slot for him.
“I don’t think he’s a true ‘No.10’ but we know he can deal with the ball in there. He found his way into the game and grew as it went on. We only took him off because we’re being careful with his body and he can get true fitness.” Everton will now face Luton Town in the fourth round on January 27th.