Everton 3-2 Crystal Palace: Lampard calls survival a special night in club's history

Everton 3-2 Crystal Palace: ‘One of the greatest nights of my career’ – Frank Lampard

Everton fans have had their nerves shredded this season, so it was no wonder thousands wanted to take to the pitch to celebrate the club securing Premier League survival in the most dramatic of fashion.

Following Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s winner against Crystal Palace, one fan ran across the roof in front of the executive box with a smoke flare, another did it in his pants at full-time. Even manager Frank Lampard was soon on there.

The scenes were as if Everton had won the title, something they last did in 1987.

But they spoke of relief following a tortuous season where relegation would have had massive consequences for a club struggling with £372m of losses, having suspended some of their sponsor contracts and who have to pay for a move into a new stadium in 2024.

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Everyone connected with the club knew what was on the line, including Lampard who has previously spoken of how survival would match his Premier League title wins as a Chelsea player.

Dropping out of the league while city rivals Liverpool are attempting to complete a quadruple would have made the fall so much greater.

“It is one of the greatest moments of my footballing life and career,” Lampard said of keeping Everton up. “I have been very fortunate to have amazing times, especially at Chelsea as a player and a coach. But when you feel the feelings and desperation of what relegation brings to the table, it is different.

“I thought I might cry [at full-time], I thought I might jump out of my body. Nobody can question the celebrations at the end. It is easy to say ‘but you haven’t won anything’.

“You know what, come and work at this club for a few months and see the difficulties and what it means to people to stay in this league.

“It is a special night in Everton’s history.”

Frank Lampard and Everton staff and players celebrate
Everton will start next season as a top-flight club for a 69th consecutive campaign

Those feelings have been clear to fans over the last month when they have turned up early to greet the team bus on its way to Goodison Park and create a carnival atmosphere. They were clear at full-time when thousands poured onto the pitch, and were loudly clear when they sang down the Goodison Road while Lampard spoke in his post-match press conference.

In many ways they deserve it for their efforts in helping a struggling team.

“Why can’t we just win 3-0 rather than having to go two goals down first,” said one supporter amid the chaos following the comeback against Crystal Palace.

But tension and anxiety during matches where poor first halves have led to second-half resurgences have been common place.

Against Newcastle, a protestor had tied himself to a post and Allan had been sent off before Alex Iwobi scored a 97th-minute winner, which sparked wild scenes. Against Leicester, Richarlison dug out a 90th-minute equaliser, to offer another adrenaline surge.

The Brazilian also scored the winner against Chelsea after two miraculous saves from Jordan Pickford.

And in the final act where the mood was bitter during the first half against Patrick Viera’s side, Calvert-Lewin’s 85th-minute winner inspired the type of celebrations which will live long in the memory.

“It was pure elation,” said Lampard. “I can’t complain when I’m up on the directors box, jumping up and down in front of them. It was a special moment for the football club and I think if done in the right way let them stay on the pitch and enjoy it for a bit as long as everyone’s behaving.

“Let them have their moment, it’s what football is all about.”

There was one sour note around the pitch invasion, as Palace manager Vieira was involved in an altercation with a one supporter who had run onto the pitch to taunt him.

Everton fans celebrate
Well-known Everton fan Speedo Mick, who has raised thousands for charity, celebrates after the final whistle

Once the celebrations have died down there will be a determination to ensure the club moves forward and never dances with relegation so closely again.

The fact they have come so close despite owner Farhad Moshiri spending more than £500m on players since he first bought shares in Everton in 2016 points to the work that needs to be done in turning the club around.

“It’s pure relief,” said Michael Keane, who began Everton’s comeback nine minutes after half-time.

“It has been a hard season but we are so proud of how the club has come together the last six weeks and built a platform to make sure it never happens again.

“We’ve had our mentality questioned and how much we care. It hurt. We care about this club more than anything else in the world. We have let the fans down a lot this season. But you could see out there what it means to all the players. We did not want to take this club down.”

Lampard’s Everton record in Premier League
17 6 2 9 18 26 20 1.18

After a stressful three-and-a-half months in charge, Lampard can at least relax on Sunday against Arsenal, who will be chasing a top-four place.

But he alluded the rebuilding job needed to try and restore some pride to a club which has been battered and bruised for most of the season.

“Now is the time to take stock, enjoy the moment and then make sure we are not here again next year, because there are reasons we are here,” he said.

“We have to find every way to improve the squad, the club and ourselves.

“Everton fans can know as long as we are at this club myself and the staff will give everything.”

Frank Lampard banner at Goodison Park
Everton have now gained 15 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season
Frank Lampard (right), Richarlison (centre) and the Everton team celebrate in the dressing room
Only Son Heung-min has scored more goals in the competition than Richarlison’s six since the start of last April (8)
Everton celebrate Dominic Calvert-Lewin's winner
On Thursday, Everton have won a Premier League match in which they trailed by 2+ goals at half-time for the first time, at the 75th attempt
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