Newcastle 3 Everton 2

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Now here is the full match report:

On the eve of his third anniversary as Newcastle manager, Rafa Benitez saw his side mount the most unlikely of second half comebacks on a momentous afternoon at St. James’ Park.

Trailing 0-2 at the interval and with Matt Ritchie having missed a penalty kick, the Magpies looked condemned to a second successive defeat until the 65th minute.

At that point Salomon Rondon halved the deficit after smart work by Ayoze Perez and the Spaniard then conjured up a late brace to give United their fifth successive home win amid scenes of sheer joy.

Victory was made even sweeter by the sight of mackem-loving ‘keeper, Jordan Pickford, retrieving the ball from his net three times in 20 minutes – although he shouldn’t even have been on the field.

The England international custodian was taunted from the off for his wearside tendencies, but somehow escaped censure after man-handling Salomon Rondon when he was about to tap the ball home to equalise Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s headed opener.

A tackle more suited to Twickenham than Gallowgate was punished with a penalty award but bungling referee Lee Mason inexplicably chose not to show a card of either colour to Pickford despite his clear and deliberate action.

Inevitably the ‘keeper saved Ritchie’s poor spot kick and misfortune turned into disaster within seconds, Everton going up the other end where some comedic defending saw them double their advantage through Richarlison amid scenes of fury both on and off the pitch.

A second half comeback seemed massively unlikely, although the missed penalty and a clear chance for Perez just before the interval could well have sent us in level.

Paul Dummett replaced Jamaal Lascelles for the second half as United reverted to a back four and tried to work the ball forward with greater urgency.

Rondon came close on 56 minutes, beating the offside trap and poking a goalbound effort beyond the advancing ‘keeper, only to see it skid agonisingly wide of the unattended Gallowgate net.

A fine backheel from Ritchie on the halfway line then set United away through Isaac Hayden and when Rondon combined with Perez to blast home, the comeback looked on with a sense of injustice fuelling crowd and players.

Kenedy and Jonjo Shelvey were added to the mix, when Mason’s decision to leave Pickford on the pitch ultimately worked in our favour as the blundering mackem’s howlers aided our fabulous fightback – most notably diverting Miguel Almiron’s fierce shot straight into the path of Perez who made it 2-2.

An aimless defensive header following a corner then cost the Toffees dear with six minutes of normal time remaining, Hayden’s looped return to Rondon deep in the box cushioned on his knee by the striker, allowing Perez to crash in a volley from six yards and provoke scenes of mass hysteria.

Five minutes of added time saw a crestfallen Toffees side fail to mount a serious response before Mason blew for full time to prompt another full-throated roar across Tyneside.

This was a huge, huge turnaround and victory given wins for Southampton and Cardiff City below us which would have seen us back in relegation trouble.

But three more points leaves us six clear of Cardiff and up to 34 points for the season with eight games remaining. It’s still firmly in our own hands.

Full match report to follow.

Team: Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles (Dummett 46), Lejeune, Ritchie (Kenedy 73), Perez, Hayden, Ki (Shelvey 79), Almiron, Rondon.
Subs n/u: Darlow, Manquillo, Diame, Joselu.

Booked: Lascelles, Schar, Shelvey.

Goals: Rondon 65, Perez 81, 84.

EFC: Pickford, Digne, Zouma, Keane, Kenny (Walcott 87), Gueye, Gomes, Bernard (Lookman 82), Sigurdsson, Richarlison (Mina 75), Calvert-Lewin.
Subs n/u: Stekelenburg, Schneiderlin, Davies, Tosun.

Everton captain Seamus Coleman was unwell during the warm-up and dropped out of the starting lineup, with Jonjo Kenny stepping up from the bench.

Kenny’s place among the substitutes was taken by Tom Davies, who didn’t get on the field.

Booked: Kenny.

Goals: Calvert-Lewin 18, Richarlison 32.

Crowd: 52,242 including 3,000 away followers.

Former Magpies Wyn Davies and Pat Howard were in attendance.


“Today, you could see something I’ve been saying from day one: these players, they care, they work really hard, they fight for each other.

“And in a difficult game like this one, they stayed calm and kept pushing. That is what the fans are expecting from these players.