LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) -Everton secured their Premier League status as Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored five minutes from time to snatch a thrilling 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace after they rallied from two goals down at a rocking Goodison Park on Thursday.
Everton needed a win to ensure they continued their 68-year top-flight stay and Calvert-Lewin, who has been a peripheral figure this season due to injury, headed a Demarai Grey free-kick in at the Gwladys Street end to spark a pitch invasion.
Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew, who could have had a red card moments earlier, scored first-half goals for mid-table Palace but Everton responded after the break with goals from Michael Keane and Richarlison before Calvert-Lewin’s winner.
Everton move to 39 points from 37 games, four clear of relegation rivals Burnley and Leeds United, which ensures they go into Sunday’s final game of the season at Champions League-chasing Arsenal with the pressure on them since January now off.
"It was unbelievably special," Calvert-Lewin told Sky Sports. "The amount of pressure that we were under, going two goals down and then to get to 2-2, I just felt that another chance would come.
"I just had to make sure I was in the right area. It was an incredible experience.
"It’s why we love the game, it’s why the fans love the game. You don’t want to be in the position we were, but then it produces moments like this.
"You can go from low to high so quickly. It is the biggest weight in the world that has been lifted!"
Palace went ahead after 21 minutes when Eberechi Eze’s free-kick was met by Matete with a simple headed finish as Everton's set-piece woes were on show again.
Ayew was fortunate not to receive a red card after a crunching tackle on Anthony Gordan only drew yellow, and then minutes later scored the second goal for the visitors.
It was a setback of Everton’s own making as captain Seamus Coleman lost the ball on the halfway line.
As Palace broke into the box, a mix-up between Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and defender Vitali Mykolenko allowed Wilfred Zaha to fire at goal, the ball ricocheting into the net off Ayew after 36 minutes.
Everton started the second half much brighter and pulled a goal back through Keane. They kept pressing after that and drew level through Richarlison.
The home fans roared Everton forward in search of a vital third and Calvert-Lewin, a player who has drawn some criticism for his perceived poor performances in recent weeks, came up with their magic moment to send Goodison Park wild.
"The way the fans have been supporting us has been unbelievable," Calvert-Lewin added. "I think they've made the difference for us.
"Some fans have questioned my commitment to the club, but I always give 100% and I hope my goal showed that."
(Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Ken Ferris)