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Venue: St James Park, Newcastle
Premier League
 Wednesday 2 January 2013; 8:00pm
1 2
Cisse (2')
Half Time: 1-1
Baines (43')
Anichebe (60')
Attendance: 49,391
Fixture 21
Referee: Martin Atkinson

Match Report

If a hugely encouraging 2012 had come to a frustrating close, Everton ushered in 2013 with a bang, overcoming another partially self-inflicted early wound to level the game with a stunning Leighton Baines free kick and then win it in the second half with a determined victory at over Newcastle United at St James' Park.

Sunday's defeat to Chelsea, only their seventh in the previous calendar year, felt like a kick to the groin given how much the Blues had put into the game only to find Lady Luck looking the other way, but despite continuing problems with injuries, David Moyes's side bounced back immediately to reclaim fifth place in the Premier League and start the year just two points off the Champions League places.

In the context of the disappointment at the weekend and Papisse Cissé's second-minute goal, this was a big performance from Everton and an equally important result. Darron Gibson and Kevin Mirallas were missing from the midfield and Phil Jagielka had to deputise at right back again in the injured Seamus Coleman's absence, but Marouane Fellaini made a crucial return to the starting XI following a three-match ban.

Though not at his most effective overall, the Belgian was a constant thorn in the Magpies' side and he was instrumental in the move that led to the winning goal on the hour mark from substitute Victor Anichebe.

That goal from the substitute capped a laudable recovery by the Blues from more sloppy early on that had gifted Cissé the opportunity to guide a looping header over the stranded Tim Howard. Tim Krul had launched a long ball forward, John Heitinga mis-timed his jump as he challenged Shola Ameobi and Cissé lost the otherwise superb Sylvain Distin to head home.

To their credit, though, Everton responded by taking the game by the scruff of the neck and not letting go until half time. For long periods, though, it looked as though Krul would single-handedly keep the Blues at bay. The Dutch keeper made a one-handed save at full stretch to turn Baines' free kick around the post after Chike Tiote had fouled Steven Pienaar in the sixth minute and he was off his line quickly to smother a close-range shot by the Blues' left back a minute later after Heitinga had sprung the offside trap with a long ball from the halfway line.

The visitors were employing a mixture of raking balls forward looking for Fellaini or the second ball and the quick, neat passing that has underpinned much of their success so far this season but they were much more effective with the ball on the ground. So it proved mid-way through the first half when Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic combined to create a clear opening but Fellaini seemed to hesitate a fraction too long and Davide Santon got across to block his goalbound shot.

A similarly good chance was orchestrated a few minutes later when Fellaini put Pienaar in behind the defence with a beautifully-weighted through-ball but Krul raced off his line and won the one-on-one face-off with a smart save.

In between, Everton survived a scare when James Perch when he headed a free kick off the post and Neville survived a convincing penalty claim against Phil Neville when he tumbled under the midfielder's challenge in the box.

But when Fellaini went to ground under an apparently illegal challenge by Fabricio Coloccini, it set up an audacious direct free kick opportunity for Baines, one he grabbed with both hands with an explosive 30-yard shot that swerved beyond the wrong-footed Krul and bulged the net to send the Blues into the half-time break all square.

In truth, Everton emerged from the break lacking the intensity with which they had dominated the first after going behind and when Heitinga was rolled all too easily by Ameobi and picked up a booking for his trouble, Sylvain Marveaux hammered a free kick into the wall. But referee Martin Atkinson evened up the unawarded penalty claims when Steven Naismith was slammed to the ground by Tiote while the players jostled for a corner and Jelavic was caught near the eye by Coloccini's raised arm but nothing was given.

In the 57th minute, Ameobi was again a source of consternation in the Blues' defence when he took down Anita's impressive ball over the top but, thankfully, he flicked it wide of Howard's left-hand post from close range.

Three minutes after that, with Naismith having just been replaced by Anichebe, Everton went ahead with another flowing move on the counter-attack. Fellaini executed a trademark chest-down-and-pass that released the ever-industrious Jelavic down the left flank and he faked to cut inside before continuing his charge forward and fired a low pass across the six-yard box. Anichebe arrived on cue to slide it home emphatically with his first touch and silence the home crowd.

With half an hour to play, it would remain an uncomfortably slender lead but Newcastle would eventually run out of ideas, trying by turns to unsettle Heitinga with long balls forward or driving in from the flanks with pace. Gabriel Obertan was allowed to charge into the area with blue shirts backing off but Howard made an excellent stop with his legs to divert his shot behind for a corner and Cisse was denied twice in quick succession as his header from a deep cross hit Jagielka near the goalline and then Howard as he prodded the rebound goalwards from the floor.

Fellaini then made a mug of his marker by slipping the ball past him and rampaging towards the penalty area but tumbled in a tangle of legs in the "D" and Baines curled the resulting free kick inches wide of the post with Krul beaten.

Newcastle's best chance to grab a point was spurned, though, with just four minutes left of the regulation 90 when Santon was put clean through on the left side of the area with Howard in front of him and two black-and-white jerseys free in front of goal to his right. He elected to take the shot from the angle, one that the American beat away well for another corner, leaving his teammates lamenting his greed. A let-off for the Blues who would play out the remaining 10 minutes — six additional minutes were added for substitutions and a clash of heads between Neville and Anichebe — in relative comfort.

So, a huge win for Moyes and his men that gets them back to winning ways with their fourth away victory of the campaign. More than that, it keeps them fully in the hunt for Europe and adds a boost in morale for a group of players who have battled through a busy festive programme and picked up nine points from 12. Pienaar, Distin, Baines and Howard stood out for special praise but there were some tired legs on show in the second half and Moyes may make some judicious changes for the FA Cup tie at Cheltenham on Monday that will allow some rest for a few players who have run themselves ragged in recent games.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Summary

The game started with another early goal but this one was ridiculous, a long ball being allowed to bounce and Cisse nodding it past Howard. Everton persisted and got their just rewards with a blistering free-kick Baines slammed through the wall and past the otherwise excellent Krul to level things just before the break. They flagged a little in the second half and David Moyes bought on Victor Anichebe who scored with his first touch, converting a lovely cross from Jelavic after the Croatian had made a superb run in on goal. Blues back on track!

Jelavic was offside in the first minute and from the free kick, Everton allow the ball too bounce and Cisse calmly nodded it over Howard into the Everton net onside 71 seconds. Astounding!

Cisse could have made it 2 on 4 mins if he'd anticipated a good cross that got right behind the dreamy Everton defence. Baines got in a good cross before Tiote tripped Pienaar, setting up a threatening free-kick that Baines very nearly curled in, forcing a superb save from Krul. A fantastic ball forward from Heitinga had four Everton players looking to profit but Krul was out decisively to deny Baines in a very lively start to the game.

Everton looked to keep possession well until Osman surrendered it very cheaply leading to another Newcastle attack. Distin had to intercept another good cross and from the throw-in Howard needed to be alert.

Everton looked to build calmly but Krul was a match for every cross, while Howard was equally decisive at the other end as the game settled into more of a midfield tussle. Tiote tripped Osman for another free-kick that Baines swung in but no follow-up as Jelavic went wide again to have any possession.

The long ball to Fellaini and nod down to Jelavic wasn't really working too well for a variety of reasons: fouls, offside, timing, as Everton looked for different ways to get behind the Newcastle defence. Another free kick saw Naismith nod down but Krul saved comfortably. Pienaar then played a hard low cross to Fellaini but his brilliant shot was straight at a defender's leg, as the Blues cranked up the pressure...

But a period of pressure by the homeside ended with Perch heading a free kick off the post with Howard beaten. Pienaar got into great space in front of Krul but once again the keeper denied Everton an equalizer their enterprising play deserved.

Big screams for the Toonies for a penalty when Ameobi flung himself at the stationary Neville, bounced off him and collapsed in a heap. Cisse was then booked and another free kick was swung in by Baines and defended away as half-time approached. Baines got another bite of the cherry after Fellaini was fouled and an absolutely fantastic Exocet of a shot from 30 yards out came through the wall and bamboozled Krul, streaking into the back of the net... Brilliant from Baines!

Heitinga got shown the yellow card for a foul and a free-kick that could have been problematic but the wall did it's job as Jelavic struggled against the linesman's flag. He finally did get free but was a tripped by Williamson who collected a yellow, with Fellaini getting called for doing very little from the free kick. Naismith continued to not impress, getting a chance for a cross played straight to a stripped shirt, leading to a crazy goalmouth scrum from the corner.

As Everton flagged a little, David Moyes decided on an early switch (58 mins!), bringing Anichebe on in place of Naismith who had been poor, but not before Ameobi came very close, flicking the ball past Howard and his left-hand post. And seconds later, Anichebe had the ball in the net, a really class goal made by Jelavic's run down the left channel an a perfect ball in that Anichebe converted deftly with his first touch of the game. A very impressive goal to silence the Toonies!

Obertan tried to duplicate Jealvic's run and was forced to shoot, with Howard equal to it. Obertan was then replaced by Bigirimana. Newcastle looked to repeat the play on their goal but this time Everton won a free-kick to end the danger.

Tiote finally saw the yellow his play had merited from the off with a late and dangerous clatter on Baines, whikle at the other end, Cisse had not one but two bites of the cherry, a header at Heitinga and a shot that Howard was very grateful to gather on the line at his feet. The Blues were living a little dangerously until a tricky ball in by Baines kicked up and almost fooled Krul who reacted well to tip it over, and more argey-bargy for the corner, Martin Atkinson struggling to keep order.

Fellaini cleverly stole the ball and went on a run that was illegally and dangerously terminated by Tiote inside the Dee, and another free-kick, this time Baines curling it over the wall and around the post. Tiote was wisely withdrawn, the other Ameobi coming on in his pace With no margin for complacency,

Neville and Anichebe managed to clash heads jumping for the same ball, both requiring extended treatment, and both having to leave the field. A completely ridiculous ruling. A massive chance for Newcastle was thwarted by Howard as Everton rocked a little until Pienaar went on a run and a weak shot. Then Osman was in the right place to block away a shot that had the beating of Howard.

5 mins on the clock saw Everton holding on to their slender lead against more and more desperate attacking from Newcastle, Ranger replacing Perch, with Oviedo replacing Jelavic for 6 mins of added time. Everton played it out with increasing confidence to carry home three more vital points.

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

The first game of 2013, and a big boost for Everton will be the return of Marouane Fellaini on the completion of his three-match ban for headbutting Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross last month. But it seems unlikely that many of the other injured half-team of players who missed out against Chelsea will be available, with the possible exception of Phil Neville.

The yellow-card rule changes too: seven yellow cards are now needed before an automatic one-match ban kicks in. This should provide welcome relief to Osman and Neville, who are both sitting on four yellows. Although Fellaini has received six yellow cards, having picked up another since he served a one-match ban back in November, his count is presumably reset to one for this next disciplinary cycle.

The challenge for Champions League places has hotted up since Everton were able to cling tenaciously in or around 4th place for most of the Autumn programme. But the monied teams around them have finally shown improved form, with a four-point gap now opening up beneath the top four, and Everton in danger of seeing a significant gap start to develop after the agonizing loss of a major six-pointer with Chelsea at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Everton are still struggling to implement the rigours of an effective defence that can deliver clean sheets: they have managed just two in the first 20 games of the season. Two players appear to be the focus of fans' concerns in this regard: Tim Howard's erratic goalkeeping, and Johnny Heitinga's questionable degree of commitment. While Howard has been between the sticks in every game, it would be unfair to blame him for all of the goals that have been given away; although Heitinga has started just under half of those games, with often frustrating performances that seem to have pleased few Evertonians.

And upfront, the frustrations that continue to plague Nikica Jelavic show little sign of abating as the Croatian worked hard to create but then spurned three golden chances that would have completely changed the game against Chelsea. While it remains frustrating to see him going out wide with the ball when he should be front and centre to finish himself rather than make chances for others, he appears to be putting in plenty of effort almost too much in terms of the equally frustrating tendency for not staying onside as attacks develop.

Some say Jelavic just needs a goal, but there's much more to it than that. He's scored six but none of them have seen things really turn around as he seems to have almost completely lost that lethal knack for scoring with his first touch. Some have said it's lack of service, but that was certainly not the case against Chelsea. The most worrying possibility is that the natural goalscoring game he brought to Everton a year ago has somehow been changed, to no good effect.

The biggest irony is that, on his arrival from Rangers, he slotted right into his new team and continued to fire in his trademark first-touch goals almost at will until the Premier League season ended. Yet, with the supposed benefit of the much hyped pre-season training beloved of the manager, and described in almost horrific terms by some of the players, he has simply not been himself since.

Newcastle are without Danny Simpson after the full-back broke a toe in the 7 - 3 slaughter by Arsenal, and there is speculation surrounding the future of lethal striker Demba Ba, who has been talking with Chelsea. Midfielder Yohan Cabaye and defender Steven Taylor are not fit enough for a first-team return. Everton are no strangers to horrific scorelines against The Gunners and will be hoping the Magpies are still shellshocked and not in too much of a mood to prove a point by bouncing back. Indeed, with just 20 points from the first half of the season, Newcastle sit on the cusp of the relegation battle, which might make manager Alan Pardew question some of his more overblown statements about the club and how it was operating in a different league to Everton.

Let's hope The Blues can help to make that different league bit come true and hasten their decent to the Championship by bucking the trend of recent visits to Tyneside Everton have won just one of their last 10 matches away at Newcastle.

Kick Off: 8pm


Michael Kenrick

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
Key Links
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Match Reports
2012-13 Reports Index
< Chelsea (H) Cheltenham (A) >
 Everton fans' reports
 Lyndon Lloyd Report
 Paul Traill Report
  Perch (87' Ranger)
  Williamson booked:53'
  Obertan (65' Bigirimana)
  Tiote booked:68' (79' Sa Ameobi)
  Sh Ameobi
  Cisse booked:40'
  Subs not used

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Heitinga booked:47'
  Naismith (58' Anichebe)
  Pienaar booked:78'
  Jelavic (88' Oviedo)
  Subs not used
  Coleman (injured)
  Gibson (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Mirallas (injured)
  Bidwell (loan)

Premier League Scores
West Brom 1 - 2 Fulham
Man City 3 - 0 Stoke City
Swansea 2 - 2 Aston Villa
Tottenham 3 - 1 Reading
West Ham 2 - 1 Norwich
Wigan 0 - 4 Man Utd
Southampton 1 - 1 Arsenal
Chelsea 0 - 1 QPR
Liverpool 3 - 0 Sunderland
Newcastle 1 - 2 Everton

Team Pts
1 Manchester United 52
2 Manchester City 45
3 Tottenham Hotspur 39
4 Chelsea 38
5 Everton 36
6 Arsenal 34
7 West Bromwich Albion 33
8 Liverpool 31
9 Swansea City 29
10 Stoke City 29
11 West Ham United 26
12 Norwich City 25
13 Fulham 24
14 Sunderland 22
15 Newcastle United 20
16 Aston Villa 19
17 Southampton 18
18 Wigan Athletic 18
19 Reading 13
20 Queens Park Rangers 13


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