Batshuayi dents Everton’s top-four dream

Crystal Palace’s Michy Batshuayi scored a late equaliser to dent Everton’s Champions League qualification hopes, forcing a 1-1 draw. The substitute latched on to Jeffrey Schlupp’s pass and placed the ball beyond Robin Olsen into the bottom corner after 86 minutes. Returning from injury, Everton’s James Rodriguez had given the Toffees a deserved lead with a superb right-footed strike in the 56th minute. The result all but guarantees safety for Palace, who are 12 points clear of the bottom three with eight games remaining. Everton are four points off fourth-placed Chelsea, having played one game fewer. Everton stumble in top-four race After top-four rivals Chelsea, Leicester and Tottenham all dropped points over the weekend, the door was open for Everton to continue their push for Champions League qualification. But Carlo Ancelotti’s side have struggled at Goodison Park this season with only the bottom five having a worse home record than the Merseysiders. Palace keeper Guaita made a flurry of fine stops, standing tall to keep out Dominic Calvert-Lewin and denying Richarlison with fine first-half saves. Rodriguez, who had been sidelined with a calf injury for the past six weeks, showed a calmness in front of goal, squeezing in the game’s opener at the near post. Victory would have taken Everton to within two points of fourth place, but a lapse in concentration allowed Batshuayi to race through and net the leveller. Richarlison forced Guaita into another fine save as the Toffees pushed for a winner in the closing stages, but Palace held on to frustrate the hosts. BBC Online

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