Premier League: Everton 3 Newcastle United 0
Everton used the desire to right the perceived wrong against them to inflict Newcastle’s heaviest defeat of the season as a 3-0 victory in front of an equally fired-up Goodison Park moved the Toffees out of the relegation zone again.
With an appeal pending on the 10-point deduction for breach of financial regulations, manager Sean Dyche has said they have to continue to deliver on the pitch and they duly did with a rousing display against the top-four contenders.
Dwight McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucoure and substitute Beto all scored late on, making the most of another superb performance from centre-backs James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite, as Newcastle’s miserable away form extended to one win in the last nine games.
Without the deduction, Everton would currently be 10th – just six points behind the visitors – rather than seven places worse off but this was the sort of performance which gives more power to the argument Dyche’s side will be just fine whether the deduction is reduced or not.
Newcastle’s England right-back Kieran Trippier had an evening to forget as his two errors, getting caught in possession by McNeil for the crucial first and hitting a clearance into Jack Harrison for the second, proved costly while former Toffee Anthony Gordon, booed throughout, played the final few moments with the taunts of the crowd ringing around the old ground.
McNeil’s goal, via a helpful deflection off Fabian Schar, was Everton’s 18th shot of game which looked like promising much but ultimately delivering little, as has been the case at Goodison Park this season, with this being only their second home league win in eight attempts.
Doucoure and then Beto, with his first Premier League goal deep into added time, kicked off wild celebrations – and late scuffles on the pitch after the final whistle.
A change in Everton’s formation with captain Seamus Coleman making his first appearance since a knee injury in April, saw Ashley Young moved into midfield with Jack Harrison in the hole behind the returning Dominic Calvert-Lewin, with Doucoure dropping into a deeper role due to James Garner’s illness.
However, there was no change to the pattern of home games this season as the hosts struggled to find the breakthrough.
McNeil rolled a shot wide of the post but Calvert-Lewin was the main protagonist and also chief culprit as, after forcing Martin Dubravka into a 20th-minute save from Harrison’s through-ball, he amazingly missed from five yards.
The England international controlled Branthwaite’s lobbed pass on his chest, swivelled but blazed a left-foot shot into the Park End, who earlier had continued the fan protests against the points deduction by holding up green cards declaring ‘Protecting the few, not the many’.
Newcastle were not much better with a weak Miguel Almiron shot and Alexander Isak header wide from close range the best they could offer.
Gordon had the chance to ratchet up the contempt with which he was held when gifted a chance to beat Jordan Pickford on the hour by Branthwaite’s mis-control but he shot straight at the England number one.
And Goodison sarcastically jeered when Gordon, now playing centrally, blazed over from an Isak counter-attack but the noise was even louder when McNeil finally made one of their chances count.
When Doucoure and Beto made the game safe the joy was unbridled but the niggly nature of the game meant was still time after the final whistle for a minor scuffle involving, among others Pickford, Joelinton and Gordon, while Schar left the pitch seemingly looking like he wanted to pick a fight with anyone who made eye contact.