Everton’s Sam Allardyce won the battle of ex-England managers at Goodison Park to ease growing pressure with a 3-1 victory over Roy Hodgson’s struggling Crystal Palace.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, restored to the starting line-up along with Wayne Rooney after the shambolic 5-1 drubbing at Arsenal, and Oumar Niasse scored early in the second half with Tom Davies adding the third before Luka Milivojevic’s consolation penalty.
Just a second win in 10 matches opened up a nine-point gap to the bottom three while extending Palace’s remarkable run of not having won without the injured Wilfried Zaha since September 2016.
This was the first Premier League meeting of two ex-England managers since Kevin Keegan’s Manchester City won 1-0 at home against Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle in May 2004.
The pair have recent history with Hodgson upset about being referred to as “Woy” during Allardyce’s meeting with undercover reporters posing as businessmen which eventually cost the Toffees boss his job as national team manager – but the pair did shake hands in the technical area.
Such friendliness was extended to the pitch in the first half with both sides lacking the killer instinct to win a game in what was a home debut to forget for on-loan Manchester City centre-back Eliaquim Mangala.
His early backpass sold Jordan Pickford short and the goalkeeper’s half-clearance dropped to Yohan Cabaye whose return from distance drifted wide.
Mangala was then muscled off the ball by Alexander Sorloth and although Keane came to his rescue the loose ball fell to Milivojevic’s whose shot was deflected wide and the defender’s departure to a knee injury just before half-time could have been viewed as a blessing in disguise for the hosts.
Both goalkeepers had to tip around the post shots from distance. Wayne Hennessey from Idrissa Gana Gueye and Pickford from Cabaye while Christian Benteke, who had a goal ruled out for offside, headed wide.
Just 50 seconds after half-time Sigurdsson struck as Everton went route one and Palace conceded the opening goal for the 18th time this season – the worst record in the Premier League.
Niasse touched on after James Tomkins failed to deal with Pickford’s punt and the Iceland international’s shot deflected off the defender on its way in.
Since his debut in January 2012 Sigurdsson has scored more goals from outside the penalty area than any other current Premier League player.
Five minutes later Cuco Martina crossed for Niasse to head in his eighth of the season.
Benteke missed another header while Sorloth had one saved before Davies’ close-range effort put the result beyond doubt.
Milivojevic’s fifth successful penalty of the season in the 83rd minute after Williams’ handball was academic with Palace still worrying about their safety as they only just above the relegation zone.