Newcastle fans have had something of a rough time of things this season – they have seen their side struggle to finish off the opposition, struggle to pick up the wins and all the while without the safety of knowing that their popular manager will be at the club for a great deal longer. With rumours surrounding the future of Rafa Benitez refusing to go away, the players have, at times, seemed unable to muster what was needed to get the job done. The quality in the squad can not be disregarded, but this has not always lent itself to fluent performances. As a result, when the Toon Army saw their heroes fall two goals down at home to Everton on Saturday, they could have been forgiven for expecting the worst.
What ensued, however, was a remarkable second half turnaround which saw the Geordies take a 3-2 win, and increase their lead over those sides currently occupying the relegation slots. Dominic Calvert-Lewin had given the visitors the lead after less than 20 minutes, heading a wonderful cross from Lucas Digne into the far corner. Newcastle then had a chance to equalise after Jordan Pickford fouled Salomon Rondon. Pickford was lucky to stay on the pitch, but Matt Ritchie’s penalty was poor and the England keeper saved. Just two minutes later, Richarlison doubled the Toffees’ advantage, picking up Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka’s parry.
With Newcastle seemingly done by the time the half-time whistle sounded despite registering more shots on target, they took to the second half with a newfound vigour – and only a string of saves from former Sunderland stopper Pickford kept the Magpies at bay. Pickford was soundly booed throughout the game, and even took the time to show a slightly cocky side before Newcastle’s recovery truly began, sticking his tongue out towards the Newcastle fans after an off-target shot. The way the game was going, it seemed destined that Everton would be taking three points back with them to Merseyside. However, cometh the hour, cometh the man as they say – on-loan striker Salomon Rondon popped up to end some wonderful linked play with striker partner Ayoze Perez, and suddenly the game saw a different tint.
Perez then bagged a brace in the ensuing half an hour to round off a captivating comeback and give Newcastle fans something to truly cheer about. The way that the Tynesiders refused to give up was admirable, and a lesson to all other struggling sides – if you keep plugging away you can carve a little bit of light. Focus on that, and your day could be brightened. Everton manager Marco Silva was incensed that Perez’s second strike was not ruled out for offside, but it has to be said that Everton did enjoy their share of decisions going their way as well – Pickford staying on the park for one. The result means Newcastle climbed up to 13th, six points clear of the drop zone, while Everton fell to 11th – just three points ahead of their hosts here.
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