London (AFP) – Crystal Palace put 11 points between themselves and the bottom three of the Premier League but were unable to make their advantage count in a goalless draw at home to 10-man Everton on Wednesday.
In a meeting of two FA Cup semi-finalists, Everton were a man down at Selhurst Park early in the second half after James McCarthy was sent off.
Victory would have all but assured Palace of top-flight survival but the south London side still have some work to do to preserve their Premier League status.
Saturday’s 1-0 win over Norwich City gave Palace their first league win of 2016 and manager Alan Pardew said Wednesday: “I would have taken four points from these last two games..but wow, we should have won.
“Although I’m frustrated, I’m pleased with another good performance. I want my offensive players to be a bit hotter, but I’m pleased with two clean sheets.
“That point is crucial, as I don’t think those bottom three can catch us now.”
Under-fire Everton manager Roberto Martinez said: “It was a more than decent result. It’s always difficult to cope with direct play. When you do that with 10 men, it is incredibly positive.
“The resilience and hard work, to be able to be so solid, was great. We had as many chances. Joel Robles had to be at his best but it was a level game. To play like that with 10 men, it was incredibly satisfying.”
Jason Puncheon was the first Palace player to test Everton goalkeeper Robles, who had a fine match.
At the other end, Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey saved well from Seamus Coleman and Romelu Lukaku.
Everton were down to 10 men in the 52nd minute when McCarthy, already booked for a first-half foul on Yohan Cabaye, blocked Yannick Bolasie to earn a second yellow that saw him sent off.
“When I saw it live I thought it was a yellow,” said Martinez. “But when you watch it on replay, it’s the opposite. I think Yannick Bolasie comes across James. His body cannot disappear. I think the Palace player looks for it.”
The Toffees, often defensively frail this season, were then indebted to Robles for two fine saves by Robles from Puncheon.