December 8, 2023

Even though Everton had already taken a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Dwight McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and Beto, Newcastle United’s suffering was far from over in stoppage time. At Goodison Park, as Everton played Newcastle, the ‘olés’ were resounding. A rendition of ‘What’s the score?’ was used to taunt the returning Anthony Gordon on multiple occasions. Jordan Pickford, who was taunted by the away end the entire time, even let out a dramatic cry after he caught the ball.


The Newcastle players took notice of that, and at full time, Pickford was the center of their ire. Bruno Guimaraes became enraged and even marched over to shove and point at the Sunderland native. Fabian Schar did the same. Pickford had already thrown his gloves to the ground by then, and Jarrad Branthwaite had moved to get between the England international and the black-and-white players.


It makes sense why the guests appeared irritated. Injury-prone Newcastle has now lost five Premier League games, matching the total number of losses from the entire previous season. In the top division, the Magpies have only triumphed once away from home. This season, Eddie Howe’s team is only the second in the division to lose at Goodison.


Martin Dubravka described it as a “little bump on the road” in the wake of Newcastle’s thrilling victories over Chelsea, PSG, and Manchester United. But even with twelve senior players missing from Newcastle, Howe was hesitant to use tiredness as an excuse because the club is now playing to such high standards.


“I shared my opinions about the performance with them,” the Newcastle manager said to reporters. “I always believe you need that honesty, not to get too technical. I always give it to them in a constructive manner, but in order to be consistent, you must also do the same. They are aware. There’s no need to tell them. They are aware that we weren’t playing at our best, which cost us the game.”


Newcastle has the opportunity to make amends quickly against Spurs, who lost badly to West Ham on Thursday night, and they have a history of coming back. Early in the season, the league saw a three-game losing run that was followed by a three-game winning streak. Newcastle dominated Chelsea after losing last month at Bournemouth.


While the short turnaround allows the players to recover for another intense game on Sunday, they won’t have much time to rest after this scrap. Even though Everton was in the relegation zone prior to this match, that was not the whole picture.


After a 10-point deduction and loud jeers during the Premier League anthem prior to kickoff, Evertonians became more united than ever. The Toffees had won four of their previous six games across all competitions. Even with the bare minimum, Newcastle knew they could not afford to take the hosts lightly.


Nick Pope, Javier Manquillo, Sven Botman, Dan Burn, Matt Targett, Sandro Tonali, Sean Longstaff, Joe Willock, Elliot Anderson, Jacob Murphy, Harvey Barnes, and Callum Wilson were still absent from Newcastle, but a number of them were “close” to rejoining the team. Saying that those players could push for a spot in Europe themselves is not hyperbole. or at least a place in the top half.


With so few options in reserve – Howe again named two goalkeepers on the bench as well as four youngsters – it was not a huge surprise that the Newcastle boss made just one enforced change at Goodison as Martin Dubravka came in for just his second Premier League start in 18 months. That meant that the same outfielders who defeated Manchester United and Chelsea, and came agonisingly close to pulling off a famous win in Paris last week, lined up for a fourth match in a row.


Just as Newcastle took their chances against those big hitters, the visitors had to do so against Everton and they soon had the chance to open the scoring when Joelinton slipped Miguel Almiron in. However, the Paraguay international’s tame effort was easily gathered by Pickford.


It was one of the few saves Pickford had to make all night. In fact, it was Dubravka who was the busier of the two ‘keepers and the Newcastle shot-stopper had to be alert to keep out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s low shot from inside the box following Jack Harrison’s clever reverse pass in the 20th minute.


Harrison, who was once on Newcastle’s radar, popped up again just a few minutes later on the opposite flank and, this time, squared the ball to McNeil inside the box. McNeil took a touch but, somehow, missed the target from close range.


It was a half where both sides were struggling to hit the target – just four shots did so combined – but Alexander Isak went mightily close to opening the scoring in the 36th minute when the record signing glanced his header just wide from Kieran Trippier’s cross. Isak had his hands on his head; so, too, did Howe on the touchline.


If that was a close shave for Everton, well, Newcastle were soon handed an almighty let-off before half-time when Branthwaite hooked Pickford’s free-kick on – only for Calvert-Lewin to blaze over on the volley from six yards out when it looked easier to score. As obvious as it sounds, whoever discovered their finishing boots after the break was going to win this.


Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewis blazed over against Newcastle United

Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewis blazed over against Newcastle United

That man, Calvert-Lewin, continued to cause problems in the second half and the Everton’s striker’s header bounced around following McNeil’s corner before Newcastle nervously cleared. It was another let-off for Newcastle and Everton soon gifted the Magpies a glorious opportunity to take the lead.


An hour had been played when Gordon pounced on James Tarkowski’s heavy touch, but the forward, who had been directly involved in seven goals in his previous eight league games, could only hit the ball straight at Pickford. It was a chance the in-form forward had to take against his former club. It ultimately proved Newcastle’s final effort of note.


As minds and bodies tired, it was Everton who found a second wind and Trippier was punished for dawdling on the ball by McNeil. Newcastle defenders backed off and McNeil hardly needed any encouragement to shoot as he broke the deadlock with a powerful effort.


Everton’s tails were up and Newcastle’s night was about to get even worse when Trippier was, again, dispossessed in the right-back position by Harrison, who pulled the ball back across the box. Although McNeil failed to connect, Doucoure was there to double his side’s advantage.


There was still time for a third. A simple pass down the right channel caught Newcastle napping and Beto raced clear and shook Schar off before the substitute poked the ball between Dubravka’s legs to leave Everton singing the blues and Newcastle feeling them.


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