Everton are now mathematically secure and set to play Premier League football next season after a dramatic comeback win over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Thursday
Frank Lampard was just visible through the blue smoke, the pitch invaders and the stewards’ orange jackets.
He celebrated Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s winning header by grabbing a water bottle and taking a long, hard sip.
Boy did he deserve it. Boy did he need it.
At the final whistle, it looked like he had endured more stress in 101 minutes of technical fieldwork than in his entire playing career.
Now, thanks to a remarkable comeback from his team, Lampard can relax and enjoy himself in the Emirates on Sunday.
His work is done… and just beginning.
But that will be for the summer. In the meantime, he can congratulate himself and his players on a great spirited response to this dire situation.
After the torches, fireworks and Goodison Park classics at full blast, it was time for cool heads and serenity.
But in the first half, Everton didn’t have either.
Within seconds, Anthony Gordon followed the crowd’s direction to check in with Wilfried Zaha, who was far from amused.
There’s an argument that Everton wouldn’t have been in this predicament if their intensity levels had hovered around that mark for most of the season, but that’s another story.
WILL YOU PARTICIPATE! Does Lampard deserve credit for keeping Everton in the top flight? Comment below
But to be successful in the Premier League, intensity alone is not enough.
This is an expensive Everton squad in need of even more transfer operations now that they are staying up.
And recruits aside, a largely fit Yerry Mina would also come in handy.
Had the Colombian been at the heart of home defence, it would have been unlikely that Jean-Philippe Mateta would have headed Eberechi Eze’s free-kick unchallenged.
It was a nice delivery and a nice jump and header, but it wasn’t a league defense.
But it was just what Palace deserved. They were by far the more accomplished team for much of this competition.
Had Zaha not been on the selfish side a couple of times, Palace could have given themselves a chance to enjoy a more comfortable lead before being doubled by Jordan Ayew.
To say the crowd was offended would be the understatement of the season as Ayew was a bit lucky just getting a yellow card for a scissor style challenge on Anthony Gordon.
Jordan Pickford felt so offended that he sprinted half the length of the field to yell at Taylor.
Should have conserved his energy and focused on the task at hand as he was one of several culprits in what was Palace’s second misfortune.
Suffice it to say, defensive error after defensive error ended with Ayew having an aerial shot first but still finding a way to shove one in.
It was a goal that underscored the chaos Everton have endured for most of this season.
Actually, except for the stunning finale, it was season in a nutshell.
There had to be a response from Lampard’s side in the second half and thanks to Michael Keane’s smartest finish after a Mason Holgate knockdown, it certainly did.
Lampard had sent Dele Alli out of desperation but the 12th man really was, as the cliché goes, the crowd.
Palace, all sleek and stylish, got a bit rattling.
And when Dele drilled over a flank, the Palace’s defenses crumbled and Richarlison’s failure fooled Jack Butland.
At least you thought it was a mess until you heard and saw the response to Calvert-Lewin’s header.
But when the noise dies down and the blue smoke clears, one thing will be clear.
Everton is safe.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/everton-frank-lampard-relegation-fans-27014721 Frank Lampard's comeback response to Dominic Calvert-Lewin's goal ensured safety for Everton