Wantaway winger Wilfried Zaha came off the bench for Crystal Palace as they played out a goalless stalemate with his suitors Everton in a Premier League clash at Selhurst Park.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men following Morgan Schneiderlin’s second-half dismissal but created the better chances to secure an opening-day victory – only for both sides to have to settle for a share of the spoils.
The Toffees had targeted Zaha during the transfer window, with the Ivory Coast international reportedly handing in a transfer request in an attempt to push through a move.
Instead deadline day passed and Zaha remained at Palace and came on in the second half as Roy Hodgson looked to pick up three points.
These two shared a goalless draw in south London towards the end of last season and, with Palace never winning an opening day Premier League home game and Everton only tasting victory in two of their past 11 first fixtures, there was an air of inevitability to this result.
Speaking before the game, Hodgson told BBC Sport he “wouldn’t have any hesitation” turning to Zaha off the bench and he did just that with 65 minutes on the clock as the home fans rose to toast their talisman.
Soon after, Everton were reduced to 10 men as Schneiderlin, booked earlier in the second half for a foul on Jordan Ayew, picked up a second yellow card for tripping Eagles skipper Luka Milivojevic.
But Palace, even with Zaha on the pitch, could not make use of their man advantage as the scoring touch continues to elude them in front of their own fans.
The visitors were well on top for the early stages without testing Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal, Gylfi Sigurdsson guilty of missing the best chance as he scuffed a shot wide when well placed.
Guaita was finally tested with half an hour on the clock, beating away Seamus Coleman’s close-range effort before Dominic Calvert-Lewin eventually headed wide.
Coleman was then on hand to keep the game goalless heading into half-time as he blocked Max Meyer’s strike behind for a corner following a rare foray forward for the hosts.
Andre Gomes limped off injured for the Toffees on the stroke of half-time as Jean-Philippe Gbamin was introduced in his place to make his Everton debut.
Patrick Van Aanholt provided the goal-line heroics to keep Palace level soon after the restart as the full-back retreated to hook Sigurdsson’s effort clear.
At the other end, England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford did well to keep out Ayew’s shot before turning a Meyer strike behind moments later.
As the half wore on, the chants calling for the introduction of Zaha grew louder as the winger again appeared from the bench to warm up on the touchline and he duly replaced Ayew with 25 minutes remaining.
But it was still Everton who were threatening on a more regular basis as Richarlison bent an effort just wide of a post.
Marco Silva responded by bringing on a player Everton did manage to land in the window as striker Moise Kean made his debut following his move to Juventus.
Zaha had a shot blocked before Lucas Digne cleared Van Aanholt’s low cross to prevent Christian Benteke tapping home.
Schneiderlin was then given his marching orders by referee Jonathan Moss, leaving Silva’s side to play the remaining 14 minutes with 10 men, something they did with little threat to Pickford’s goal as the game ended goalless.
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