Newcastle 3 Everton 2 Sunday 28 December 4.15pm
After four defeats on the bounce, Alan Pardew must have thought his luck was in as with Everton showing similar poor form, they turned up today missing injured players and left the likes of Lukaku, Mirallas and Barkley on the bench.
Five minutes later and it was looking like the run of ‘form’ was going to continue as Gouffran lazily failed to stop Seamus Coleman and his whipped in right hand side cross was swept home by Arouna Kone, for his first ever goal in an Everton shirt.
After being rocked back on their heels United did eventually get a bit of momentum going and two unlikely sources featured in the build up to the equaliser. Colback touched a short ball to Chieck Tiote in the latest corner taking brainwave and he hit his cross way beyond the far post, only for Mike Williamson to provide an excellent assist by volleying the ball back to Papiss Cisse to force the ball home.
Ten minutes before half-time and relief all round, a mood which turned to relative euphoria as United took the lead within six minutes of the restart. Pressing high Newcastle won back possession and Cheick Tiote played a short ball through the middle to Ayoze Perez though the ball was just behind him. That was a minor detail though for the Spanish striker, who despite having a handful of defenders around him, got a shot away through Coleman’s legs and into the bottom corner.
With 68 minutes on the clock United seemingly wrapped the game up with Jack Colback scoring his first goal in black and white, Janmaat slotting a ball through which substitute Ross Barclay failed to control, the ginger Geordie taking advantage to coolly slot the ball under Robles.
For once it looked as though we might enjoy a more relaxed final twenty minutes but Alan Pardew had other ideas, pulling everybody back into an even tighter defensive formation and inviting Everton to attack. With big hitters Mirallas, Barclay and Lukaku now on the pitch it was inviting trouble.
Sure enough, with 84 minutes gone Leighton Baines bisected Janmaat and Coloccini, with Mirallas running through to beat a strange feeble attempt by Jak Alnwick to try and prevent the goal.
Including injury time United just about got through the remaining ten minutes to get back on the winning trail, though once again fans questioned Pardew’s ‘wisdom’ of going defensive when his players had managed to get so on top at 3-1.
Today of course will always be remembered more for the manager’s non-appearance for the post-match press conference and subsequent revelation that he was going back to where he belongs in the bosom of his capital friends.
Typical of the Pardew luck that he signed off with a win despite his tactics almost throwing away the game.
Team: Alnwick, Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett, Colback, Tiote, Gouffran (Cabella 90), Sissoko, Cisse (Riviere 72), Perez
Unused Subs: Woodman, Santon Steven Taylor, Armstrong, Anita
Ref: Craig Pawson