By Scott Hunt/@scotthunt92
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew was left ruing refereeing decisions which he believes cost his side all three points after an entertaining draw with Everton at Goodison Park.
In-form Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku scored an 81st minute equaliser for the Toffees to deny Palace after Scott Dann had given them the lead five minutes earlier. The strike was Lukaku’s 50th Everton goal in his 100th appearance for the club.
The point was enough to move Palace above West Ham and Liverpool and in to sixth in the league – just six points off Manchester United in fourth. Everton remain a point adrift of the Eagles but right in the mix for the European places in ninth.
Pardew felt that a point was a fair result but believed they could have picked up the win had they received more luck.
“Tonight we have played a team in top form and we still almost won,” Pardew told Sky Sports.
“But for a couple of refereeing decisions that, in my view, they have got wrong, we could have won it.
“I think it was obvious from where I was standing that Jedinak’s shirt was being pulled but the referee and linesman didn’t see it, which I’m surprised at.
“The second one was 12 yards from the linesman and I don’t think he plays the ball at all and if he can’t see that, then there is a problem.
“It was one of those nights and, in the context of what happened tonight, a draw was a fair result, no doubt about that.
“But this team has produced an honest display which they always do – I never question their commitment. Just little bits of our quality tonight could have been better but, overall, a cracking game.”
Lukaku was a constant menace throughout the game and almost opened the scoring after 20 minutes, but saw his effort from the edge of the area cannon back off the post.
Palace threatened with long-range strikes from Yohan Cabaye and Yannick Bolasie before Ross Barkley went close with a header just after the break.
The woodwork denied the hosts again after an hour when Barkley’s cross flicked off Connor Wickham and onto the bar.
Everton were piling on the pressure but it was Palace who grabbed the opener through Scott Dann with 14 minutes remaining. The defender rose highest to nod Jason Puncheon’s corner past Tim Howard.
Once again Everton were frustrated by the bar two minutes later when Lukaku was denied but the Belgian finally broke through after 81 minutes when he poked Gerard Deulofeu’s cross home from six yards. It was Lukaku’s ninth in his last nine Premier League games and means he has now scored in each of his last three games against Palace.
It was a continuation of Palace’s superb away form. They have more points on the road this season than they do at Selhurst Park, and only Arsenal have picked up more points on their travels that the Eagles since Pardew took charge in January.
They will be hoping to continue their recent good form and consolidate their push for a European place when they host Southampton on Saturday followed by a testing trip to Stoke. Everton are now unbeaten in seven games and will be confident of extending that run with a weekend trip to Norwich before taking on league-leaders Leicester at Goodison.