Everton secured their Premier League status with an incredible fightback where they came from two goals down to beat Crystal Palace.
The hosts, who will continue their 68-year stay in the top flight, looked like they were heading for defeat after Palace scored twice in the first half through Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew.
But conjuring up a fighter’s spirit once more and spurred on by their vociferous support, Everton turned the game around in the second half, thanks to a more attacking approach.
Nine minutes after the break Michael Keane smashed in to give Frank Lampard’s side hope, and when Richarlison found the bottom corner with a deflected shot with 15 minutes left, it sent Goodison Park into raptures as a precious point looked likely.
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Yet the best was to come with five minutes left. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who scored his first goal since August against Brentford on Sunday during an injury-hit season, sparked pandemonium with a diving header from Demarai Gray’s free-kick.
The excitement boiled over as fans descended on the pitch to celebrate, with blue mist shrouding the stadium as smoke flares were let off.
The crucial result avoided the kind of final-day nerves that Everton fans had to experience in 1998 and 1994, where the team also preserved their Premier League status.
This time, with a trip to Arsenal on Sunday, they can at least enjoy the fact that however tortuous this season has been, they will remain in the top flight, and will hope to build on the spirit shown in the closing stages of the campaign.
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The party started at the final whistle, with thousands of fans flooding onto the pitch, letting off more smoke flares, saluting their team and manager Lampard.
But he and the club will hope they will never have to cope with a similar scare again given lavish spending on players and a move to a new stadium in 2024.
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