A first half strike from Aaron Lennon and 2 second half penalties from Ross Barkley gave Everton their first home league win since November. Lennon who scored and assisted in the Toffees win at Carlisle on Sunday opened the scoring midway through the first half after good work from Tom Cleverley down the left.
Newcastle struggled to create in attacking areas with Everton nearly their own worst nightmare trying to pass their way out of trouble. The home side signaled their intent in the second half hitting the woodwork three times in 5 minutes through Ross Barkley, Tom Cleverley and a John Jo-Shelvey.
With the home side only leading by 1 goal, the nervousness around Goodison was in abundance until Lennon’s work down the right caused substitute Rolando Aarons to bring him down. Barkley slotted home from the spot then capped a fine performance pouncing on a Jamal Lascelles to win a second penalty with the Newcastle man sent for an early bath. Barkley’s delightful paneka finish from the spot helped move Everton up to 11th after their victory ahead of their trip to the Britannia on Saturday to face Stoke.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez made two changes from the side that overcame Carlisle in the FA Cup on Sunday. Arouna Kone and Steven Pienaar dropped to the bench with Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry coming back into the side. Aaron Lennon continued on the right flank ahead of Gerard Deulofeu while John Stones was ruled out pre match with a hamstring injury.
Newcastle were without a game on Saturday after losing in the FA Cup 3rd round to Watford. Manager Steve McClean made 3 changes to the side which lost 2-1 to Watford in the Premier League 11 days ago. Paul Dummet and Ayoze Perez came back into the side with Jamal Lascelles and Aleksandar Mitrovic dropping to the bench. Recent signing Andros Townsend made his debut while deadline day signing Seydou Doumbia was named on the bench.
Everton started the game on the front foot with, as expected the majority of possession; Newcastle were more than happy to sit with 10 men behind the ball hoping to soak up the Everton pressure. Tom Cleverley who netted the winner at St James Park in the corresponding fixture went close to opening the scoring after 5 minutes. After a good move down the left saw Ross Barkley skip past a number of challenges, his ball found Lukaku inside the area with his back to goal. The Belgian striker opted to lay off to Cleverley on the edge of the box but the former Manchester United man saw his curling effort destined for the bottom corner brilliantly saved by Rob Elliot.
Everton were struggling to create going forward with space of a premium in the middle of midfield. Lukaku curled a free kick just wide before Lennon opened the scoring midway through the first half. Following link up play down the left between Bryan Oviedo, Barkley and Cleverley saw the latter found on the left edge of the penalty area. His ball found Lennon who span and his low shot crept beyond Elliot into the far corner to put the Toffees ahead.
Cleverley was the bright spark for the home side in the midfield with his energy and work rate creating much for his side. Barkley saw an optimistic lob go over after a poor clearance from Elliot. Martinez’s men were fully deserved of their lead but the nervous energy surrounding Goodison was not helped by their continued need to pass their way out of trouble at the back. Funes Mori, Oviedo and Barry were all guilt of playing their way into trouble however with Newcastle lacking attacking invention, the lead was fairly comfortable.
Barkley who had struggled to find space in the opening 40 minutes of the game almost created a second for his side. After dazzling feet on the left, his low ball across goal found Lukaku on his heels at the back post. However Coleman retrieved possession on the right, his one two with Lennon saw the Republic of Ireland full back pull back the ball to the unmarked Lennon in the area. But unfortunately for Lennon, his goal bound effort was blocked. McClaren was forced to make a change towards the end of the first half with Chancel Mbemba forced off with injury with Jamal Lascelles replacing the defender.
With Everton leading at the break, McClaren introduced Rolando Aarons at left back in place of Paul Dummet while Romelua Lukaku was forced off with a back injury for the home side; Arouna Kone replaced the Belgian forward. With the half time team talk ringing in their ears, Shelvey saw an effort from distance fly straight in to the arms of Joel Robles. Robles was starting his first premier league game of the season after Tim Howard picked up a knee injury in training.
It was clear that Martinez’s wanted the tempo increased from his side in the second half and they responded. The Toffees were pressing higher up the pitch and this pressure presented Lennon with the chance of a second. Lennon broke through the Newcastle midfield but after shifting the ball onto his left foot his shot was saved; Kone picked up the rebound but his effort flew wide of the target.
With Everton on the front foot, they then hit the woodwork 3 times in 5 minutes to increase the nervousness around Goodison. First, a brilliant run from Barkley saw the England International’s curling effort tipped on the bar by Elliot. Next John Jo Shelvey headed on to his own bar after a Tom Cleverley free kick then it was Cleverley who became the third player to clip the woodwork with his second free kick tipped on to the post.
After squandering leads in three of their last 5 Premier League matches, the Merseyside faithful were fearing the worst after their side failed to add to Lennon’s opening goal. Despite introducing Mitrovic in the second half, the Magpies still looked avoid of ideas in the attacking third. Their best chance fell to Aleksander Mitrovic but much like the rest of the season, the Newcastle no 45 struck wide. After Moussa Sissoko did well to create space on the left hand side, his in-swinging cross found Mitrovic who avoided the offside trap but struck his volley wide.
Barkley’s influence on the game was growing ever bigger by the minute but decision making in the final third was costing his side. Barkley was finding acres of space in the middle with Cleverley’s, McCarthy’s and Barry’s pressure on Newcastle helping him to create going forward. As time ticked down towards the 90, the nervous energy continued to grow until a fine bit of play from Lennon won his side a penalty. After Lennon jinked his way inside the box, half time substitute Rolando Aarons went through back of Lennon leaving referee Craig Pawson with no option to point to the spot. Barkley slotted home from the spot to much relief around Goodison.
Barkley was not satisfied with just one goal for the night, after a long ball forward Jamal Lascelles was caught on his heels. Barkley pounced a broke into the area, Lascelles pulled the Everton man back as he was about to shoot. Pawson pointed to the spot and produced the red card to increase the misery on the Geordies. Barkley stepped up and finished with a delightful “paneka penalty” to wrap up victory and move his side up to 11th.
Link to Barkley’s Paneka here: Paneka Penalty
Steve McClaren’s Newcastle still sit 2 points from safety in 18th place and with the January transfer spending at St James Park the most in Europe; they have to start performing soon. In truth though the Magpies looked at no stage likely to score at Goodison, despite the introduction of Andros Townsend, he looked isolated on the wing. With the arrival of Seydou Doumbia on Monday, it looks quite clear to the onlooker that he will be thrust straight into action on Saturday at home to West Brom. A crucial game for the Geordies who will need to replicate their last home performance which saw them beat West Ham 2-1.
It is hard on last night’s evidence to fight the corner of Steve McClaren had to be thankful to his keeper Rob Elliot for keeping the score just to 3. Elliot had a fine game in goal for Newcastle but with creativity null and void in attack for his side, it seems an uphill task for the Geordies to stay in the Premier League.
Ross Barkley, a joy to watch in the flesh, his driving runs forward and his vision on the ball is exceptional. His decision making still needs to improve but the England International thrived under the lights at Goodison. When the game opened up in the second period, Barkley was the difference but the work of Barry and McCarthy really helps Barkley’s freedom in Martinez’s system.
Tom Cleverley, lost at Manchester United but the Englishman seems to have found a home at Goodison. His work for the first goal will go un-noticed by many but his run forward and his ball to Lennon made the opportunity for his side. Playing just off the left side, he provides a balance to his side and adds a bit more protection to the midfield with Barkley left in a free role. Cleverley drifted out of the game towards the end but his contribution on the game was brilliant.
Martinez divides opinion on Merseyside with many acknowledges the fact that they should sit higher in the division. The players available to Martinez of course the Blue side of Merseyside should sit higher, however a semi final loss to Manchester in the League Cup and a 5th round tie with Bournemouth to come later this month, progression in the cup is in sight. The Toffees sit just two points behind their city neighbors and 8 points off of Manchester United in 5th place, a run of form will see the blues rise up the table.
The main positive was a second clean sheet in two games only the second time they have achieved back to back clean sheets this season. Everton have been poor defensively in many games this season but with Cleverley adding better balance on the left hand side, it seems that Martinez has gone more back to basics. The philosophy remains of keeping possession, moving the ball around nicely. Coleman and Ovideo love to get forward but the cover that Lennon and Cleverley provided helped give the Toffees more of a stable base.