Late Batshuayi leveller stunts Everton's Euro push

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LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Everton midfielder James Rodriguez scored on his return from a long lay-off on Saturday against Crystal Palace but it was not enough to earn his side victory as the Londoners snatched a 1-1 draw with a late strike from Michy Batshuayi.

The Colombian had not featured for over six weeks due to injury. After coming close to scoring in the first half he broke the deadlock in the 56th minute, slotting a Seamus Coleman cutback inside the near post to score his 100th goal in European club football.

Carlo Ancelotti's side had a couple of opportunities to extend their lead through Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison and they paid the price for not taking them when Batshuayi pulled Palace level in the 86th minute.

The Belgian forward had been on the pitch for less than two minutes and made an instant impact when he latched on to a through ball from Jeffrey Schlupp and fired a low shot past keeper Robin Olsen.

The equaliser further dented Everton's hopes of securing European football next season and left them eighth in the standings on 47 points.

Palace stayed 12th on 38 points.

Batshuayi conceded his side were lucky to get a draw.

"Normally, Everton should win today. They had a lot of chances in the game but we stayed focused and concentrated. We had an opportunity and I scored so I am happy," he said.

"It is a great finish but I thought I might be offside. It was a good performance for us and a good point."

Everton had lost their last two league games after winning their previous three and could have gone ahead on several occasions in the first half.

Calvert-Lewin caught sight of goal early on but could not get his shot past the legs of visiting goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, while Rodriguez flashed a shot just wide of the post.

Richarlison was twice thwarted by Guaita in the first half while he also glanced a header just wide. After the interval he should have put the game out of Palace's reach when he bore down on goal but Guaita tipped his shot over the bar.

The only consolation for dropping points for Everton was the sight of Jean-Philippe Gbamin coming on as a substitute to make his first appearance for 597 days, having overcome two career threatening injuries.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)