Updated: Jan 25
Everton 2-2 Newcastle United
Newcastle commit robbery in Liverpool with two unfeasibly late goals to leave Goodison Park with an undeserved, yet spirited point in the most dramatic style.
With Joelinton hooked on 78 minutes, to be replaced by Fabian Schar, and with the Magpies showing the sort of impotence throughout 93 minutes of a game that had been bossed by Everton, the game was lost.
Or so you’d have thought.
In 200 seconds of football, some of which was in 'time added on' after the allotted 4 minutes of injury time, Newcastle United did the unimaginable.
With 93 minutes on the clock and at two-nil down United forced a late corner. One that Everton would fail to clear convincingly and with the ball recycled into the Everton area saw Florian Lejeune score his first goal for the club in spectacular style. And bicycle kick no less.
The resultant restart of play from Everton saw them launch a long ball up field, expecting the final whistle no doubt. But when the ball was headed back into the centre circle Sean Longstaff was felled when challenging for the ball which resulted in a free kick to Newcastle and one last chance to lump the ball into the box.
The resultant free kick saw first Fernandez hit Pickford’s left hand post and bounce back into play, then Hayden see his shot blocked, before Lejeune once more fired at goal. In the bedlam that followed with what felt like all 11 players from both sides desperately trying to hack the ball over or away from the goal line, the referee pointed back to the centre circle. Florian’s drive had crossed the line with England number 1, and ex-makem keeper bemusingly standing behind the goal line when pushing his shot back into play. Que scenes on the pitch, seemingly most Newcastle players not even sure who to turn to in celebration and instead running to the away end. Que LIMBS!
You can make an incredibly strong argument that Newcastle United deserved nothing for their performance tonight, for it was quite dismal. You can make a counter argument they deserved all they got. Just as against Chelsea at the weekend, they kept going with grit and the sort of belief in each other as players that is rarely seen amongst their own fans these days.
This was the sort of game that Newcastle always seem to lose. A good win followed by a loss against a team that are odds-on favourites is standard form for United these days. The black and whites knew before kick off that a win, and favourable results elsewhere, could lift the Magpies as high as 8th, above Spurs, Arsenal and their hosts.
In Everton, United were up against a team lifted by the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti, who has made a good start at the Toffees. For the second game running there was no sign of Richarlison with the skilful forward ruled out with a knee injury.
For Newcastle United, Allan Saint-Maximin was given a rest from the match day squad after his efforts against Chelsea three days ago. There was also a makeshift look in both full-back positions with Willems and Dummett now ruled out for the season and Yedlin unfit too.
There was little to shout about for the travelling Newcastle fans however, with only a rare foray up field and the odd corner to keep Geordie hands warm.
For Everton it was, until those final crazy minutes, a good day at the office. Goals Calvert-Lewin and a first at home for Kean the least they deserved up to that point.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Hayden, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark (Lejeune, 70), Ritchie, S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Almiron, Atsu (Krafth, 62), Joelinton (Schar, 78)
Newcastle had started well with Joelinton, Atsu and Almiron all looking lively in the early stages. The best chance of these initial stages would go to the home side however with a cross that should have been intercepted by Lascelles, instead evaded everyone in the Newcastle area with both Calvert-Lewin and Kean well placed to tap in.
Just before the 20 minute mark Kean warmed the palms of Dubravka after the ball had broken kindly to him following a deflection from Calvert-Lewin. The Newcastle keeper getting down well to push the effort around the post.
It would take until the 30th minute for a breakthrough, and the goal would go to Everton.
A long ball fired forward, brilliantly taken by Calvert-Lewin before being lifted into the path of Kean who fired low and hard past the feet of Dubravka.
There was little else to shout about for either sides in the first half as they departed, both teams, for a dressing down in the break no doubt.
Into the second half and it was Everton who continued where they’d left off in the first.
Sean setting Bernard away with a deft flick before Bernard could only blaze over the bar when well placed. It really should have been game over within 5 minutes of the restart.
It wouldn’t take long for the goal to come however. This time Digne with a wonderful through ball to Calvert-Lewin who would take one touch before firing home to double Everton’s lead.
With next to no attacking threat to that point, any thoughts of a comeback were pretty fanciful. the main concern was that it wouldn’t become a rout.
As the game drifted on it seemed both sides, and coaching teams had settled for the result as it was. No more unnecessary energy to be expended. No more risks to be taken. Take the win, the defeat, and move on.
Little did those who remained in the ground deep into injury time.
With half of the home fans off for the early bus, safe in the knowledge the points were in the bag, it was left to the away fans to keep singing (as they do) until the final whistle.
If only they could perhaps nick the most deserved of consolation goals to at least give them something to tease the opposing goalkeeper about.
90’+4 GOAL! Everton 2 Newcastle 1. Florian Lejeune overhead kick, bottom right corner
90’+5 Foul! Sean Longstaff fouled in centre circle by Tom Davis
90’+5 Post! Federico Fernandez hits right post with right footed shot from tight angle
90’+5 Blocked! Isaac Hayden attempt blocked inside 6 yard box
90’+5 GOAL! Florian Lejeune left foot shot deemed a goal using goal line technology
90’+6 Full Time
Scenes, limbs (all normal sized you’ll be relieved to know), what an end. No words, just elation and disbelief in all quarters.
You couldn’t make it up, but Newcastle steal a point and move to 30, with 14 games left to play.