This was one of the more comfortable 90 minutes that the home team have had under the lights in recent seasons. “Carlo Magnifico” was ringing around the stadium, Steve Bruce, whose side had barely laid a glove on the hosts all evening, had withdrawn his only striker and resigned himself to defeat, and some satisfied Evertonians were heading for the exits having witnessed another home win under the new manager.
Then “Everton” happened; that infuriating, confoundingly self-sabotaging entity that seems to find new ways to shoot itself in the foot; the one that Carlo Ancelotti has been brought in to fix; the weak, soft-centred one of which the Italian is getting painful but valuable first-hand experience; and the Blues were handed another timely reminder that the clock usually goes well beyond 90 minutes.
Even by Everton standards, though, this was pathetically amateur and utterly needless, born of a complacency and cockiness that many of these players haven’t come close to earning.
There were 92 minutes on the clock when first Tom Davies and then Lucas Digne started messing around with the ball deep in their own half within 15 yards of their own corner flag before the Frenchman was dispossessed and Mason Holgate was forced to come across and nod the ball behind for a corner.
Newcastle are one of the more dangerous teams from dead-ball situations, as Chelsea found out on Saturday when the Magpies plundered a stoppage-time winner at St James’s Park, and when Matt Ritchie swung in the corner, Jordan Pickford failed to make proper contact under pressure from the unmarked Florien Lejeune, Fabien Schär’s half-volley came off Jamaal Lascelles and sat up perfectly for Lejuene to overhead kick it past Holgate on the line.
Still, with just another minute or so to go, that should have been an undeserved consolation for Steve Bruce’s side. A more mature team would simply have kept the ball for the time remaining and seen out the three points. Instead, Fabian Delph belted the ball forward, Newcastle won it back and Davies conceded a foul in the centre-circle that gave the visitors one last set-piece from which to try their luck at grabbing a point.
And smash and grab they did. Davies mis-judged the flighted ball that dropped behind him and Holgate where Federico Fernández rattled a cross off the post, Calvert-Lewin got a head to Isaac Hayden’s goal-bound effort and Lejeune prodded it forward where Pickford looked initially to have saved it before the goal decision system and subsequent replays showed that the goalkeeper had ended up a yard or so behind his goal-line.
Both sets of players and the thousands in the fans reacted with disbelief and many in the home crowd gave their players their verdict with a chorus of loud boos when the final whistle blew seconds later.
Quite apart from the agony of another two points being frittered away, the aftermath of this game should have been a celebration of Moise Kean's first Everton goal, a third successive home victory under Carlo Ancelotti and Everton sitting two points off fifth place.
Up until the calamity in stoppage time, this was Everton’s best performance of the season so far and they were deservedly coasting to three points. There were positives to be taken, of course, and the young striker’s all-round display, full of running, neat touches, intelligence use of the ball and ceaseless work-rate when out of possession was certainly one of them.￼￼￼
So, too, were Calvert-Lewin, who took his tally for the season to 12 in all competitions with a really well-taken goal, Holgate who was effortlessly commanding at the back ,and Bernard who continues to be hit-and-miss but the moments where it comes together for him can be sublime.
Praise should also be reserved for Morgan Schneiderlin who made his first appearance since that horror show at Anfield and played well and Theo Walcott who kept the Newcastle defence occupied throughout and had a hand in some genuinely threatening moments before he was substituted with a couple of minutes to go of the regulation 90.
Unfortunately, the veteran winger’s replacement, Oumar Niasse, was one of three questionable substitutions that Ancelotti made and the manager doesn’t escape criticism for this result, even if he was well within his rights to expect that the 11 players left to get the job done.
The Italian’s changes have felt a little defensive and premature ever since his debut game in charge against Burnley and it’s been hard to escape the feeling that the “Moyes sub” was going to be his undoing at some point. Tonight that came home to roost as the first two changes altered the shape and slowed Everton's forward momentum.
Davies, who was awful at West Ham on Saturday, did little to further his case with this profligate and costly cameo while Niasse, arguably the worst Everton signing of the modern era and one of the most transparently transfer-listed players in the Premier League — shop window? the laughing stock more like! — was the one who initially lost the ball when trying to lead a two-on-two break immediately prior to Newcastle’s first goal.
It just felt unnecessary given how in control Everton had been up until the closing stages where they started to get nonchalant and careless which was quite different from how they had started the game.
If anything, the early going in the first half had been just a little careless from both sides, with spaces opening up at either end that Miguel Almíron threatened to exploit on a couple of occasions while Bernard and Digne failed to find blue jerseys with cut-backs from the byline.
Everton soon settled, however, and they worked Martin Dubravka in the Magpies’ goal twice in the space of a minute midway through the first period, first through Djibril Sidibé who tested him with a crisp shot and then through Kean who drilled a low effort that the keeper scooped away from danger.
Dubravka couldn’t prevent the opener, however, that owed much to a brilliant moment from Bernard. Calvert-Lewin did well to get a heel to Yerry Mina’s ball forward and divert it into Bernard’s path and, spotting Kean’s run, the Brazilian lifted it over two defenders where the young striker just about brought it under his control before slotting it under the stranded keeper.
His exuberant celebration was months of pent-up frustration being released and you could tell what it meant to him.
Calvert-Lewin miscued wide and Bernard had one promising opening charged down that allowed Dubravka to save but by the halfway stage it was almost all Everton, with Newcastle having only troubled Pickford once when he had to see Joelinton’s header over his crossbar shortly before the interval.
Chances kept coming for the Toffees early in the second half. After Walcott bounced a scuffed half-volley in the direction of the opposition goal, Kean might have done better when he failed to properly connect with it as it went unclaimed in front of the keeper.
Then Kean back-heeled beautifully for Walcott who slipped Bernard in behind the defence but he put too much on his attempt to clip the ball over Dubravka and cleared both the keeper and the crossbar.
Nevertheless, Ancelotti’s men did make it 2-0 in the 54th minute with another nicely-worked goal. It ended with Digne passing smoothly into the box to pick out Calvert-Lewin beyond Fernandez and with the whole goal to aim at, he swept a fine left-footed shot into the far corner.
It might have been 3-0 had Dubravka not saved at full stretch to deny Bernard or Mina not missed badly with a free header following a corner and Everton would eventually come to regret not putting the match beyond Newcastle’s reach before that calamitous finale.
Together with the game at West Ham on Saturday (that Everton might well have won had they performed even half as well as they did this evening or had Richarlison been in the team to grab a goal), this feels like the kind of missed opportunity and four dropped points that the club might come to regret when it comes to the final Premier League table.
Ancelotti was perhaps a little too sanguine with his post-match comments but he will be aware how long the road ahead is with this team and he has still lost just once in the League since succeeding Marco Silva last month. He is also still in the learning phase when it comes to assessing what he has inherited and in many ways it’s probably better to get these kinds of setbacks out the way early, even if the opportunity for this maddening collection of players to rescue this season is still there while, outside the top two, the Premier League remains erratic and unpredictable.
10 days and an opportunity not only for the likes of Richarlison and Alex Iwobi to get fit but for Ancelotti to have more time on the training field can only be a good thing. In the meantime, however, this result will stick in the craw for supporters who are getting tired of seeing their supposed heroes find new ways to disappoint and frustrate them.
Well, we really out-ridiculoused ourselves this time
Well it should have been a thoroughly enjoyable evening. It was for the most part but then Everton suck you back in a way only they know how. Drawing 2-2 from being 2-0 in the 93rd minute of 94, the two goals being the only two shots on target the visitors had all game, really takes some doing, even for Everton. We’ve seen a lot of nonsense over the years but this season really takes some doing.
The evening had gone smoothly up until then. Gaz picked me up from work and then grabbed Dan and Alfie on route. The beer went down smoothly in the pub, as did the free hot dogs. Despite the disappointing showing at the London Stadium we were all optimistic our depleted lads could be their depleted team. On we marched to Goodison confidently and the way we began the game, it was with good reason. It began at a high tempo with both teams getting stuck in, but we had the edge. We were getting on the ball more, dictating play and creating openings. The crowd were in good voice and on around 25 minutes Moise Kean drove at goal from distance but Martin Dubravka saved.
You sensed something was in the offing and it was on the half hour mark when Bernard lofted a lovely ball in to Moise Kean who controlled, took it inside onto his right foot and brought the house down when his shot went through Dubravka and into the centre of the net. Everyone delighted for the lad and he celebrated in style…less of the silly handshakes with Dominic though please! The half time cider with Gary went down a treat.
We were coasting quite frankly. More motivated? More quality? Less depleted? Less tired? Buoyed by an expectant and believing home crowd? Take your pick but we slaughtered Newcastle United. We were all over them for nearly all of this game. Dominic Calvert-Lewin took his goal ever so well. I doubt he’d have scored that 10 games or so ago. His first time left foot finish was delightful. At 2-0 on 54 minutes you could only see one result.
More goals should have followed. Dominic’s sweeping drive was well saved. Bernard very nearly scored when he cut inside and shot, and Mason Holgate twice came close from corner kicks. Yerry Mina also missed an unbelievable chance when well teed up by Theo Walcott.
We were home and dry. Newcastle United didn’t even really believe they could get anything out of the game when, deep into injury time, we got ourselves into a bit of a muddle and gave away an unnecessary corner kick, which resulted in the ball acrobatically put into the net by Florain Lejeune.
Though everyone around me seemed to know better I was honestly unconcerned. I mean, though I had no official clock in front of me I figured it must have been the 93rd minute at least. We had a restart. All we had to do was bury the ball deep into their corner flag and that would be that.
Alas, Everton are a constant disappointment, and even this seemingly menial task they are incapable of. At the restart the ball was given back to Fabian Delph. My preferred option would have been for he to roll it back to Jordan Pickford. He was very accurate in finding the stands all game and one more time would have been perfect. Instead Fabian lofted it diagonally though nowhere near the corner or the touchline. The ball remained in play. Newcastle United instantly regained possession, and Tom Davies, though I don’t recall exactly what happened, gave away a free kick on the half way line. We all dropped back. We’re now in the 95th minute. Why are we even still playing? How has this nightmare unfolded? Newcastle United even played the ball short in the first instance, and then lofted it into the box. It all seems to happen in slow motion but the ball is eventually bundled goalwards by Florian Lejeune. Being behind it in the Gwladys Street, I thought we’d got away with it as Jordan Pickford saved on what seemed to be the goal line. However the referee signalled for a goal and Newcastle United players ran off towards their supporters in delirium. Having seen a photo of the goal, I’m dumbfounded as to why Jordan is about a yard inside his own goal when it goes over the line. I’m also befuddled as to why the full time whistle hadn’t gone. It was the 95th minute of 94 for heavens sake.
I doubt my friends and I are alone in just being fed up of this same old script. Everton always find a way to ruin you. We should be used to it by now, though somehow we’re not.
It’s no excuse for the player’s surrender, but am I alone in being continually mystified by Carlos’ substitutions? I’m happy to have a manager of his pedigree. I like the way he carries himself and I’m behind him. I’m not professing to know more about football than he, but am I alone in wondering why we are having constantly unnecessary reshuffles late in games? Was it really necessary to put Oumar Niasse on the pitch? Would another centre back then not have been a better idea? Or Anthony Gordon perhaps? It’s not the first time, he’s done this in every game so far I think. He’s still getting to know his players, but the changes don’t seem logical to me.
I also read this beauty from Carlo on Twitter from his post-match press conference:
“The players are really sad for this moment. I said to them I lost the Champions League after winning 3-0, these things happen.”
We know Carlo. We bloody know.
Pickford: Nothing to do until the end but then he couldn’t do it. Poor distribution throughout. 4
Digne: Not bad in the main, though his poor clearance was a factor which lead to Newcastle United coming back in. 5
Holgate: Very good throughout but may have nightmares about conceding that late corner when it probably wasn’t necessary. 7
Mina: Very good mostly. 7
Sidibe: Did OK. 6
Schneiderlin: Mopped up pretty well. 6
Delph: Mostly quite good, but what that ball was from the restart I just don’t know. 6
Bernard: Was outstanding in the time he was on the field and deserved to be on the winning team. My man of the match. 8
Walcott: Played well on the right and also did well when played through the middle. Come to think of it, I don’t know why he’s never been given a run there. 7
Kean: Once he’d scored that goal it was as if a weight had been lifted off him and all of a sudden he was confident, taking players on and playing with freedom. Hopefully the big positive of the evening can be the awakening of Moise. 8
Calvert-Lewin: Lead the line superbly and got his rewards with his goal. Deserved to win the game. 8
Coleman (for Kean): Held his position well. 6
Davies (for Bernard): I’m not privy to his instructions of course but there was too much fancy stuff for me when he should have been more no nonsense. His ball to Lucas wasn’t the easiest for our left back, which ultimately resulted in Newcastle United’s first goal. He then also gave away a free kick for our second goal. I’m a big fan of Tom’s but his lack of maturity really showed here. 5
Niasse (for Walcott): How he has survived all this time at Everton is quite the debacle. A very poor player not fit for purpose at Everton. 4
Everton are back in action just three days after travelling to the Capital to face West Ham as Newcastle United come to town.
The Blues had to be content with a point from the London Stadium following a disappointing performance overall by an injury-hit side and Carlo Ancelotti will likely have the same XI from which choose this evening as he did on Saturday.
The Italian revealed at his press conference that neither Richarlison nor Gylfi Sigurdsson will make the match due to minor knee and groin issues while Michael Keane's neck complaint will be assessed late to see if he can be included in the team.
All three players missed the draw with the Hammers and there will be no Alex Iwobi in the squad either as he continues his recovery from a hamstring strain sustained last month.
He is expected to resume full training this week in the hope of being fit to face Watford on 1st February, while Jean-Philippe Gbamin is being brought along conservatively with an individualised training regimen that is only now starting to involve sessions with the first-team as a whole.
Richarlison in particular was missed on Saturday but Ancelotti will be hopeful that his charges can put on a better display in front of their home fans against a team that is also dealing with more than its fair share of injuries.
Jetro Willems and Paul Dummet's seasons are already thought to be over while Dwight Gayle, DeAndre Yedlin, Yoshinori Muto, Jack Colback, Ki Sung-Yeung Javi Manquillo are also ruled out. Andy Carroll, arguably the Magpies' greatest threat in the reverse fixture at the end of last year, is also a significant doubt who has just a 25% chance of starting.
Despite his selection woes, Steve Bruce steered Newcastle to a hard-fought, last-gasp win over Chelsea at St James's Park over the weekend and he has his club sitting on eight points more than they had at this stage last season. The two clubs come into the game level on 29 points, five off Manchester United in fifth place.
If Ancelotti can get more of a tune out of his players than he managed at the London Stadium, the combination of that and home advantage should be enough to see Everton past Newcastle.
The defence, with Yerry Mina and the impressive Mason Holgate in the centre, has been strong so the difference will be in midfield and up front, two areas where the Toffees struggled on Saturday.
With Morgan Schneiderlin out of favour, Tom Davies and Fabian Delph may get a reprieve and another chance to form a partnership in midfield while the fact that the game is at Goodison Park might also see Moise Kean get another start to see if he can finally break his duck.
Bernard might not be so fortunate but Ancelotti might plum for his experience over that of Anthony Gordon and use the youngster off the bench again.
Kick-off: 7:30pm, Tuesday, 21 January 2020
Referee: Simon Hooper
VAR: Anthony Taylor
Last Time: Everton 1 - 1 Newcastle United
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Mina, Holgate, Digne, Sidibé, Delph, Davies, Bernard, Kean, Calvert-Lewin