Everton battled out a 3-0 victory at home to a tired Newcastle United in the Premier League on Thursday night to climb out of the relegation zone.
Two sides that had shown such spirited defiance to testing extenuating circumstances in recent weeks combined to produce a grim contest desperately lacking in quality. It was entirely fitting that such an underwhelming spectacle was decided by two glaring errors.
Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier was the guilty party, gift-wrapping two goals for a wasteful Everton before Beto completed the scoring off the bench.
Thursday’s scrappy victory lifted Everton above Luton Town and into 17th place – had it not been for the club’s ten-point deduction, the Toffees would be in the top half of the table above Chelsea.
How the match unfolded
Roared on by a fervent Goodison Park, Everton started rapidly, rattling off six shots in the first eight minutes. Every effort in this initial burst was off target but Martin Dubravka – standing in for the injured Nick Pope – was swiftly forced to rebuff Dominic Calvert-Lewin twice from close range.
Dubravka was not called into action when Calvert-Lewin pivoted inside Newcastle‘s six-yard box towards the end of the first half. Unaware of how much time and space he was afforded at the breakdown of a set piece, Everton’s number nine awkwardly spooned his volley improbably over.
Rarely has a player looked so longingly towards the assistant referee, begging for an offside call to spare their blushes. The flag was not raised.
Newcastle were no more clinical with their sporadic sights of goal. Former Everton favourite Anthony Gordon remembered his roots with a flurry of spurned chances upon his return to Merseyside.
In the space of seven second-half minutes, Trippier’s evening spiralled from controlled to calamitous. Put under pressure by an Everton side hungry for the club’s first home win, Trippier was twice forced into cheap turnovers.
Dwight McNeil swept Everton’s 18th effort of the contest beyond Dubravka from the top of the box to finally break the deadlock. McNeil turned provider in the 86th minute, firing the ball back from the byline for Abdoulaye Doucoure to double the hosts’ lead.
The relentless approach Eddie Howe demands finally appeared to catch up to Newcastle’s injury-ravaged squad. Beto emerged from the bench to skip past the tiring black and white stripes and seal all three points in the sixth minute of stoppage time as Everton belatedly found their cutting edge.
GK: Jordan Pickford – 6/10 – Unusually unfussy with what little work he had.
RB: Seamus Coleman – 6/10 – To his enduring credit, Coleman didn’t look like he was making his first start of the season until he pulled up after an hour.
CB: James Tarkowski – 7/10 – Dove into every challenge with unflinching commitment.
CB: Jarrad Branthwaite – 7/10 – Gliding across the turf, Branthwaite snuffed out every attack aimed down his flank.
LB: Vitaliy Mykolenko – 7/10 – Reliably unmoving regardless of the winger that he was faced with.
CM: Abdoulaye Doucoure – 8/10 – Shunted away from goal, Doucoure would not be denied the chance to crash into the opposition box as often as he has when at his best this season.
CM: Idrissa Gana Gueye – 6/10 – Lacking the deftness of touch to unpick the lock, Gueye brought more steel than silk to midfield.
RW: Ashley Young – 6/10 – Even though he was stationed further up the pitch, Young didn’t shirk his defensive duties, playing a duel role of creating and containing.
AM: Jack Harrison – 7/10 – Combined well with McNeil, fluidly swapping positions and passes.
LM: Dwight McNeil – 8/10 – On the front foot out of possession and just as decisive once he had the ball.
ST: Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 4/10 – That first-half miss will haunt Calvert-Lewin, who was rusty and ragged in front of goal throughout.
SUB: Nathan Patterson (67′ for Coleman) – 5/10
SUB: Beto (85′ for Calvert-Lewin) – 7/10
Subs not used: Joao Virginia (GK), Michael Keane, Ben Godfrey, MacKenzie Hunt, Arnaut Danjuma, Youssef Chermiti, Lewis Dobbin
Sean Dyche – 7/10 – Set his side up with a front-foot approach that eventually forced Trippier’s errors.
GK: Martin Dubravka – 4/10 – Unconvincing when the ball wasn’t steered directly at him.
RB: Kieran Trippier – 1/10 – A night to forget for Newcastle’s normally dependable full-back.
CB: Jamaal Lascelles – 6/10 – Solid if unspectacular at the heart of Newcastle’s backline.
CB: Fabian Schar – 3/10 – Uncharacteristically wayward with his attempts at switches of play, repeatedly ceding possession and sparking an Everton attack.
LB: Tino Livramento – 4/10 – A limited attacking threat, more concerned with holding his defensive position.
CM: Lewis Miley – 6/10 – Another display worthy of a player well beyond Miley’s tender years.
CM: Bruno Guimaraes – 6/10 – Didn’t always have his radar calibrated but still possessed more poise than any other player on the pitch.
CM: Joelinton – 7/10 – Galloping across the turf, Joelinton’s burning hunger to win the ball back repeatedly saw him gobble up possession.
RW: Miguel Almiron – 4/10 – Swapped sides with Anthony Gordon in search of a way in the game that was not forthcoming.
ST: Alexander Isak – 5/10 – With a rare sight of goal, Isak bounced a first-half header narrowly wide of Everton’s upright.
LW: Anthony Gordon – 4/10 – Booed with his every touch, Gordon spurned his chances in front of goal to silence the crowd.
SUB: Matt Ritchie (90′ for Miley) – N/A
SUB: Emil Krafth (90′ for Lascelles) – N/A
Subs not used: Mark Gillespie (GK), Loris Karius (GK), Paul Dummett, Lewis Hall, Alex Murphy, Ben Parkinson, Amadou Diallo
Eddie Howe – 4/10 – Without any senior attacking options on the bench, Howe had little scope to improve a side that looked to have used up every available drop of energy.