Everton continued their perfect start to the season with a deserved victory against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s fifth league goal of the season opened the scoring for the Toffees following neat build-up from James Rodriguez and Seamus Coleman.
Cheikhou Kouyate’s free header drew Palace level, but Richarlison restored the visitors’ lead from the penalty spot after Joel Ward was controversially adjudged to have handled Lucas Digne’s knockdown.
Everton had chances to extend their lead in the second half, but Calvert-Lewin shinned Rodriguez’s corner past the post before Colombian Rodriguez had a goal-bound shot blocked by Mamadou Sakho.
Palace saw more of the ball in the closing stages but failed to trouble Jordan Pickford in the Toffees’ goal.
The win lifts Carlo Ancelotti’s side to the top of the Premier League.
Fluid in attack, question marks in defence
This is the first time Everton have won their first five fixtures of a season since 1938 – and the first time they have started a top-flight campaign with three successive victories since 1993-94.
The Toffees were made to work hard against a Palace side who themselves had started the season with back-to-back league wins, but Ancelotti’s team fully deserved the three points.
The visitors – unchanged from last weekend’s win over West Brom – were quick to gain a stranglehold on possession and took the lead when Rodriguez’s first-time pass released Coleman, whose cut-back was tucked home confidently by Calvert-Lewin.
The 23-year-old is the first Everton player to score in three consecutive matches at the start of a season since Steven Naismith did so in 2014-15.
Calvert-Lewin should have doubled his tally in the second half when he beat two Eagles defenders to a Rodriguez corner, but he failed to direct his effort on target.
Michael Keane then appeared to get in the striker’s way from another Rodriguez delivery moments later, allowing Jordan Ayew to clear the danger.
Though pleased with his side’s overall performance, Ancelotti will be disappointed with the manner of Palace’s first-half equaliser, with Kouyate rising unmarked to nod Andros Townsend’s corner past Pickford.
Ward and Palace rue their luck
Ward, who was making his 250th appearance for the south London club, was visibly aggrieved at referee Kevin Friend’s decision to award Everton a 39th-minute penalty after consulting his pitch-side monitor – although the defender’s arm was away from his body when it made contact with Digne’s header.
The 30-year-old had survived an earlier video assistant referee check for a similar incident involving Richarlison, but Friend ruled in favour of the Palace man on that occasion.
There were positives for Roy Hodgson’s team, with summer signing Eberechi Eze producing a lively performance on his full Premier League debut for the club.
Other than Kouyate’s equaliser, however, the hosts failed to muster a shot on target on Pickford’s goal.
The makeshift centre-back went closest to a second Palace equaliser after half-time, but failed to hit the target with his far-post header.
The result stretches the Eagles’ winless home run against Everton to 10 league matches.
Man of the match – James Rodriguez (Everton)
Toffees improving on the road
Crystal Palace have gone 12 Premier League games without a win against Everton, losing six and drawing six since a 3-2 win at Goodison Park in September 2014.
Everton have won four of their past six away games in the Premier League (L2), as many as in the previous 20 combined.
Excluding penalties, Everton (18) have conceded more goals from set-pieces than any other current Premier League side since the start of last season.
Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate scored his first Premier League goal since Boxing Day 2019 v West Ham, ending a run of 20 appearances without a goal.
Everton forward Richarlison’s strike was his first Premier League goal from the penalty spot, and his 32nd overall in the competition. Indeed, 31 of his 32 goals in the competition have come from inside the box.
Only Wilfried Zaha (23) has provided more assists for Crystal Palace in the Premier League than Andros Townsend (18).
‘Totally unacceptable’ – what they said
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson: “I predict what will happen is players will start flicking the ball on to a hand and screaming ‘handball’.
“A really good game destroyed by a decision. I do not believe in the rule. People in football find it hard to accept. The referee doesn’t think it is handball either. He doesn’t want to give it but has to because that’s what he is told to do.
“We have lost in a way I find totally unacceptable.”
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti: “I’m really pleased for the result. The first half was good, second half was more difficult because Crystal Palace put a lot of pressure on us.
We defended well but we could play better with the ball. It is good to see the spirit in the team in this moment. We have started the season well.
“We have to look only for the momentum, that is good in this moment. In a busy time with another game on Wednesday, we have to keep the motivation and ambition. The danger is behind us all the time when we do not behave properly.”
Crystal Palace travel to Chelsea in their next Premier League game on Saturday, 3 October (12:30 BST). Everton host West Ham in the Carabao Cup fourth round on Wednesday (19:45) before welcoming Brighton to Goodison Park next Saturday (15:00).