Football eh? Bloody hell.
Alex Iwobi struck deep, deep (and I mean deep) into stoppage-time to secure what could be a priceless victory in Everton’s battle against the drop.
Allan’s red card had left the Toffees grimly hanging on for a point. But a late breakaway in the ninth minute of added-time saw Iwobi combine well with Dominic Calvert-Lewin before firing low into the corner to send Goodison into delirium.
Football can rest on split seconds, key moments. How significant could that moment be in the final shake up?
It’s just a second win in 12 Premier League games and they remain in deep trouble, but this could, hopefully, be the start of a survival bid.
Frank Lampard made four changes to the side that slumped to defeat against Wolves on Sunday. Illness saw Jordan Pickford and Donny van de Beek miss out and join the suspended Jonjoe Kenny on the sidelines. Vitaly Mykolenko also dropped to the bench, with Asmir Begovic, Alex Iwobi, Michael Keane and Allan coming into the side.
First half thoughts:
There was once again a boisterous atmosphere at kick-off, the fans new how important the game was. That noise did soon fade as Newcastle got an early grip on the game. But despite the obvious nerves there also appeared a determination to stick with the players even things weren’t going their way.
Newcastle looked a team full of confidence. After a frantic opening looked the more composed side on the ball and began prodding and probing at that vulnerable Toffees backline. An early Bruno Guimares pass completely dissected the Everton back line at one stage, while Seamus Coleman did well to deny Ryan Fraser as he broke clear on goal.
I could barely watch every time Newcastle took a corner - Chris Wood and Dan Burn against our defence is a disaster waiting to happen. Wood headed straight to Begovic early on before sending another header over, with the Toffees never looking convincing.
You couldn’t fault the players for effort, with Allan and Anthony Gordon (again) the standout, but they looked desperately short of ideas in the final third as numerous attacks broke down as they approached the Newcastle penalty area.
Second half thoughts
The game was delayed for more than seven minutes after a protestor chained themselves to the Gwladys Street goalpost. It took several stewards, the fire brigade and some bolt cutters to release him. I know Everton’s football has been bad recently but still…
The break did little for the game’s flow. It was very tense and very scrappy.
Dan Burn vs Richarlison always looked a mis-match, but the Brazilian’s tenacity made it a fascinating battle. The 6 foot 7 inch Newcastle defender looked to wind the Toffees striker at every opportunity, regularly barging into his back off the ball. Richarlison responded with a couple of hefty challenges himself and was booked by referee Craig Pawson.
Lampard responded to the impasse by bringing on Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has recovered from illness but not deemed fit enough to start.
A team of Anthony Gordons would not be near the foot of the table. The 21-year-old was again Everton’s best player in the second half and drew a fine save from Martin Dubravka with a shot that was arrowing towards the corner.
Everton were inches away from taking the lead when Richarlison’s cross was just ahead of Calvert-Lewin. The Toffees were slowly getting on top. But in the latest chapter of this awful season the game’s turning point followed moments later.
Allan hacked down substitute Allan Saint-Maximin as he looked to break. Definitely a yellow card, but VAR checked and asked Craig Pawson to review the decision on the monitor. The way VAR has treated Everton this season it is no surprise that he decided to upgrade it to the red.
Everton and Allan were furious, especially when they saw a replay of the tackle on the big screen, and the team were once again in a deep hole. And the earlier protest meant there was FOURTEEN minutes of stoppage-time.
It was heart in the mouth stuff as Everton sunk onto the edge of their own area, desperately looking to repel the Newcastle attack.
But then, what may well become one of the most important goals in Everton’s recent history as DCL’s neat lay-off was stroked into the corner by Iwobi.
The noise from the crowd was deafening. The celebrations at the end were like we had won a cup. Avoiding the drop will feel like a trophy given what damage relegation would cause to this football club so I make know apologies for those scenes.
It was so, so important that they won tonight. I don’t think a draw would have been enough. The manner of it and the moment it could generate may also be just as significant.