Crystal Palace booked their place in the FA Cup semi-finals courtesy of a 4-0 win over relegation-threatened Everton, whose cause was not helped by what looks a serious injury for Andros Townsend.
The Eagles were forced to withstand severe early pressure from Frank Lampard’s side, who were unfotunate not to see early persistence rewarded with a goal. However, Palace were certainly the more clinical and were deserving of their place in the semi-finals. That came after well-taken goals from Marc Guehi, Jean-Philippe Mateta, Wilfried Zaha and Will Hughes.
However, it may have been a different story had Everton’s high-tempo start reaped its reward.
The Toffees made a bright start with Michael Keane firing wide and Richarlison seeing penalty claims waved away after a VAR review.
The visitors continued to press and the Brazilian saw another penalty shout waved away, this time after being flagged offside.
Everton continued to look for the opener, but their momentum was held up when Andros Townsend rolled his ankle. The former Palace man was applauded from both sets of fans as he was helped off in quite obvious discomfort.
Although too early to say, it doesn’t bode well for Townsend with his potential lay-off spelling more bad news for Everton.
And that was the queue for Palace to get a foothold in the game with Eberezi Eze and Michael Olise both trying their luck. And they opened the scoring on 25 minutes when recent England call-up Guehi steered a header into the corner following Olise’s inswinging corner.
Palace were within a whisker of doubling their advantage eight minutes later when Zaha saw a sweeping effort flash inches wide.
The Eagles then scored a beautifully-crafted second goal with Zaha starting the move down the left. He showed dazzling feet to feed the ball to Eze, who first-time cross on the run picked out Mateta to drill home a low strike.
Seamus Coleman then displayed excellent last-ditch defending to prevent Mateta adding a third on the stroke of half-time.
The 2-0 scoreline perhaps somewhat flattered Palace somewhat given Everton’s strong start to the half.
And despite the setback, the Toffees came out fighting in the second half.
Zaha makes the win safe for Palace
Indeed, the introduction of Dominic Calvert-Lewin was the cue for an immediate improvement from Everton.
The Toffees did their best to get a foothold back in the game with Demarai Gray among those trying their luck.
One of the stranger goals you will see 😅
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) March 20, 2022
However, it was Zaha who almost added to their lead, his shot well blocked by Mason Holgate.
Some neat play down the left did see Palace net a third, however, on 79.
The goal was created and, ultimately, scored by Zaha. His weaving run down the left saw the ball worked out to Olise, whose mis-hit shot bizarrely looped back into play off the post, falling to Zaha, who drilled home.
The win was wrapped up in the closing stages by Hughes. The former Watford man was on hand to tap home his first goal for the Eagles.
Vieira’s side will now await the semi-final draw and will be vying to reach a first Cup final since Alan Pardew’s side made it in 2016.