Everton recorded a vital victory in what was arguably their best Premier League performance of the season. Signs looked good for Everton from the start as they began the game with a more positive outlook and were passing the ball around at a faster tempo that they had been doing earlier in the season. Lukaku proved to be ‘up for the game’ from the start and was proving that he has got more to his game than scoring goals, he produced a more all round game today and was involved in lots of the play through his ability to bring his teammates into play.
Although Everton had started the game confidently there was still an underlying sense that something was around the corner which would go wrong. Evertonian nerves were soothed in the twentieth minute when the scoring was opened. Lukaku received the ball with his back to goal and set up James McCarthy, who gathered the ball and shot from around 25 yards out. McCarthy will likely admit that he never struck the ball as cleanly as he would like, but he was still able to see the ball end up in the back of the net and claim his first goal of the season for Everton. Now that Everton were in the lead and following on from their performance against Kiev in midweek, it should have eased a lot of the nerves surround Everton, however Newcastle did come back into the game and were putting some pressure on Everton. Newcastle were creating a few chances, although nothing that forced a save out of Tim Howard, who up to this point was having a fairly quiet game. Newcastle were ending the half the stronger of the teams, although Everton did come close to scoring again just before the half time whistle when Alcaraz sent a header narrowly wide.
The first half will have been a satisfying one on the whole for Everton, although they did come under some pressure but they coped well with that and Tim Howard was not really troubled during the first half. Everton had the best of the play and their players were being the more creative and more confident on the ball.
Everton will have wanted to come out in the second half and get a second goal, which for most of this season has seemingly eluded them so that they could kill off the game. The second goal came in the 56th minute following some good ply from Lennon, who was causing problems for the Newcastle defence with his pace and direct attacking play. Lennon cut back into the Newcastle area and was brought down just inside the box by a challenge from Gouffran to get a penalty for Everton. Lukaku took the penalty for Everton, possibly a little surprise for most Everton fans as Baines was on the pitch and maybe those Everton fans were hoping that there would be no repeat of the penalty debacle from earlier in the season for Everton! There should have been no worries over Lukaku taking the penalty as he confidently strode up and sent the ball into the bottom right corner of the Newcastle goal.
Things were soon to get a little easier for Everton when Coloccini was sent off for a bad challenge on Lennon, the red card was the correct decision and Newcastle were now 2-0 down and facing the last thirty minutes with 10 men. Everton were in a dominant position and they probably should have scored a couple more goals, especially when Baines set up Kone, who although he struck the ball well it was straight at Krul. Osman also could have scored when he saw his left footed shot saved by Krul, and possibly the best chance of the three was when Lennon set up Barkley from the right, only to see Barkley’s shot blocked when it was heading into the goal.
Tim Howard was called upon to make his only real save of the match in the 78th minute when Sissoko curled a shot towards goal, which Howard saved comfortably. The game was not virtually safe for Everton, who will have welcomed the three points but the scoring was yet to finish. Atsu was played free into the Newcastle half and he ran at the defence before cutting inside and playing a perfectly weighted ball to Barkley, who took the ball round the keeper before cutting it back past the Newcastle defender and into the empty net.
Although Everton did come under pressure at times from Newcastle, and for some prolonged periods, they coped with it well and never really looked to be under and imminent threat. The defence coped well, as evidenced by Howard not having to make a real save until the 78th minute. Attacking wise Everton were better as well, with the ball being moved around at a quicker tempo and the players being able to make the ball stick and stay under control. Newcastle were not given much time on the ball for most of the match as an Everton player was normally quick to close them down, this pressure was coming from all of the players and it led to a much improved team performance.
SkemNews man of the match
There were a number of players who played well in the match, Alcaraz and Jagielka played well at the back and never seemed to come under and serious pressure, they were also involved in the Everton attacks. Lukaku and Kone had good games up from, both linked up well with the rest of the players and brought them into the game, Lukaku also claimed a goal.
As the headline of the article says ‘Lennon and McCarthy instrumental as Everton win’ with both those players being involved all over the pitch, McCarthy as normal just goes about his game without much fuss but making an impact on the game allowing teammates to play their game, he also scored a rare goal to set Everton off. Lennon had his best game for Everton, he caused problems in attack, winning the penalty and also setting up a number of chances for teammates, he also received the applause of the fans following his tireless running and willingness to close down the opposition, notably on a couple of occasions following a 40 or 50 yard sprint to close down a player.
However the man of the match award has got to go to Darron Gibson, he seemed to be the one player that pushed Everton forward more than the rest. He was tidy in possession and was always looking to make a decisive pass and to go forward with the ball at every opportunity. If he can get a good injury free run and maintain his form from recent weeks, then he could easily become an influential man in the Everton midfield.