Newcastle brush aside struggling Everton to edge closer to Champions League spot
Newcastle are cantering towards a return to the Champions League after a 4-1 win at Goodison Park made a demoralised Everton’s task of escaping relegation all the more difficult.
Callum Wilson’s seventh and eighth goals in six matches against the Toffees either side of Joelinton’s fourth in his last five helped lift Eddie Howe’s side eight points clear of fifth place, while leaving their hosts two points from safety after one win in their last 10.
Even when Dwight McNeil pulled one back with 10 minutes to go Jacob Murphy immediately responded as Everton’s defensive nightmares down their right side continued for a second game.
Monday’s trip to Leicester, immediately above Everton in 18th, now becomes a must-win game as with Manchester City one of their two remaining home fixtures, Sean Dyche’s side cannot rely on the power of Goodison to get them over the line to extend a 69-year stay in the top flight.
But Newcastle, having experienced their own period in the doldrums of the Championship, have no such worries as an appearance in Europe’s elite competition proper for the first time since 2003 edges ever closer having scored 10 goals in their last two matches.
The visitors showed they have the mettle for a fight as, after Sunday’s 6-1 procession against a hapless Tottenham, they outlasted the intensity and physicality Everton brought.
Having lost the early midfield battle they took control once Wilson, starting ahead of Alexander Isak, put them ahead in the 28th minute with his fifth goal in his last six games.
Dyche altered his team’s preparations, Everton arriving on a bus instead of their own cars, in order to allow fans to reinstate the blue pyrotechnic-heavy coach greeting which accompanied last season’s late escape from relegation.
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s return from suspension and Amadou Onana’s availability after injury allowed Dyche to select his first-choice midfield for the first time in four matches and the pre-kick-off fireworks behind the Gwladys Street and Bullens Road stands set the tone for the hosts.
Two Alex Iwobi crosses drifted agonisingly just over the heads of Calvert-Lewin and Doucoure either side of an Idrissa Gana Gueye free-kick which cleared the crossbar by a few inches.
Calvert-Lewin, however, remained isolated up front and Dyche could be seen waving midfielders forward in support with the striker himself beckoning players closer as another Jordan Pickford kick sailed towards him.
Doucoure’s energy was a vital cog in the link between midfield and attack and when he slid in Calvert-Lewin the forward chopped back onto his left foot only for Fabian Schar to block.
Newcastle managed to dampen Everton’s fire without managing to create a genuine chance of their own until they took the lead in the 28th minute.
Joelinton, whose personal experience had been torrid up to that point, broke down the left and cut inside Ben Godfrey – woefully exposed as a stand-in right-back due to the unavailability of Seamus Coleman (injured) and Mason Holgate (suspended) – to shoot at Pickford, whose save bounced kindly off James Tarkowski to Wilson.
The confidence of the league’s lowest scorers was momentarily affected as passes started to go astray but they recovered their purpose late on in the half with Michael Keane guiding Iwobi’s near-post corner wide before the pivotal moment went against them.
McNeil played through Calvert-Lewin and his dink over Nick Pope showed no sign of the rustiness expected of a player in only his second match back after almost three months out.
However, the Goodison roar was instantly quashed by the offside flag and not even VAR could overturn the marginal decision to save them.
Tarkowski blocked Joe Willock’s goalbound shot seconds after the interval but the response was for Calvert-Lewin to force a save out of Pope after Iwobi had escaped the clutches – literally – of Matt Targett on the counter-attack.
Willock’s volley was acrobatically tipped around the post by Pickford as Newcastle continued to carry the greater threat and the killer blows against the toiling hosts in a four-minute spell were delivered by the unmarked Joelinton’s close-range header and Wilson brilliantly curling a shot into the top corner.
The trickle of fans heading for the exits missed McNeil’s 80th-minute goal but Magpies substitute Murphy scoring his side’s fourth immediately saw the stands empty more rapidly and a VAR offside ruling denied Schar Newcastle’s fifth.