Newcastle United 2 (Ba 49,90)
Demba Ba dropped and ends up scoring two great goals, you just never know in this daft but brilliant game we love.
Bizarrely, Newcastle were well worth a draw despite hardly getting into the opposition half in the opening forty five. Marveaux had come in as the right hand part of a three with Ben Arfa left and Cisse through the middle.
Whether other tactics or personnel (Ba?) would have made a difference is possibly doubtful as predictably Everton had the bit between their teeth from the off. Without Tiote’s physical presence it was always going to be hard to stem the tide despite Jonas pushed inside to work against Fellaini’s likely domination.
While the Belgian played well first half it was Leighton Baines who was the home side’s top man in the early stages and Marveaux was chasing shadows as he failed to get to grips with his defensive duties.
On fifteen minutes Baines surged forward and some excellent interpassing ended with a shot through Harper from just inside the box, would Krul have done better?
United lived dangerously and indeed could have been behind after only a minute as Harper only parried Fellaini’s cross-shot and Jelavic was flagged offside as he managed to collide with a post at the same time.
Chances for the likes of Pienaar and Osman came and went but strangely Newcastle had two great chances in the first half with just about their only two forays into the opposition half.
A set-piece ended up bouncing to Cisse who saw his volley across goal just miss the post, then some magic from Ben Arfa saw him weave into the box and pull the ball back for Anita who was beaten to the ball by a defender who saw his ‘shot’ cleared off the line.
Fair play to Alan Pardew because he brought Demba Ba straight on after half-time and could maybe claim to have done the right thing all round.
Cabaye’s lovely through ball was right into the path of Ba who took it early with his left foot from twenty yards and maybe outfoxed and wrongfooted the keeper, a goal with just about his first touch.
We were then treated to a pulsating second half that swung from end to end but with United the better team. Ben Arfa and Cabaye were finding more of the ball in advanced positions as now with two strikers the opposition were finding they had a bit more to think about. In fact the shift around seemed to work all over the pitch with Anita very confortable at right-back, Jonas nullifying Baines and Perch putting in a really good shift in the middle of midfield.
The officials took centre stage as first Fellaini was flagged offside in a very marginal decision on the hour, only for a double decision that had both sets of fans going mad.
Firstly Anichebe’s header saw a great reflex save by Harper only for it to drop dangerously on/over the line, a combination of Williamson and Ba clearing it and no goal given. The ball reached Ben Arfa who rode a cynical foul by Pienaar to reach the halfway line with only one defender in front of him and Newcastle players breaking either side.
Instead though the referee made the most shocking decision of the night as he inexplicably blew instantly as Ben Arfa had been fouled, a travesty considering referees now have the luxury of being able to wait and see if there is an advantage to be had. A booking for Pienaar was meagre punishment.
Five minutes to go and Cabaye’s clever ball inside the full-back set Ben Arfa away, his low shot looked to have beaten Howard only for his elbow to come to the rescue. Never mind, only a handful of minutes left and a draw is a canny return.
A low ball into Anichebe with a minute or so left and he brilliantly turned Steven Taylor, who had been outstanding, and placed a shot across Harper which was well struck but didn’t equal Harper’s motionless response. I would have put money on Krul saving it.
Predictably the home fans, players and manager went mental. Gutted!
Long ball to substitute Shola, a quick look by Ba to see that Howard has hesitated, which gives him the chance to show the composure needed to wait and poke the ball under the keeper.
A brilliant second half and Alan Pardew showed his delight up in the stands as he punched the air, up to a point United weathered the first half storm and the substitutes turned the game.
The Manager Of The Year might still have a few tricks up his sleeve….
For me Steven Taylor was our man of the match and Ba, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Santon and Anita amongst others showed in the second half that rumours of Newcastle demise might be just a little premature.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Mirallas (Naismith 83), Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic (Anichebe 44)
Newcastle United: Harper, Perch, Steven Taylor, Williamson, Santon, Anita, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa, Cabaye (Bigirimana 90), Marveaux (Ba 46), Cisse (Shola 79)
Subs not used: Elliot, Tavernier, Gosling, Obertan
Referee: Mike Jones
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