Newcastle fall just short
Newcastle's dream of returning to the Champions League proved just out of reach on the final day of the season as they lost 3-1 at Everton.
Last Updated: 13/05/12 5:48pm
Newcastle's dream of returning to the UEFA Champions League proved just out of reach on the final day of the season as they lost 3-1 at Everton.
Wins for Arsenal and Tottenham among the other Premier League top-four contenders rendered the Goodison Park encounter ultimately meaningless, but boss Alan Pardew will still be slightly disappointed.
Everton were 2-0 in front at half-time through Steven Pienaar's deflected effort and an added goal from Nikica Jelavic before John Heitinga's second-half header extended their lead.
Tony Hibbert's own goal gave Newcastle some hope, but they never truly threatened any sort of comeback and the match was shrouded by Everton substitute Tim Cahill's red card after the final whistle for putting his hands on the throat of Yohan Cabaye.
Pardew will be frustrated his squad could not finish in the top four, but a fifth-placed finish is still a remarkable achievement, while Everton will be delighted to have completed the campaign with a four-point lead over Liverpool.
Finishing as high as they have only two years after being promoted back to the top flight and with the Europa League to look forward to, Newcastle and boss Pardew - who was named Premier League manager of the season earlier this week - can reflect with great satisfaction on a campaign few could have anticipated before it got under way.
With Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and Jose Enrique leaving the club and Andy Carroll having already departed, expectations among Newcastle supporters were less than sky-high last summer, but some of the players Pardew has brought in have proved masterstrokes, the likes of Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye rapidly developing into Toon icons over the course of the campaign.
In Sunday's final-day clash, though, they were ultimately outshone by their opponents.
Newcastle almost went in front in the opening minute when a free-kick ricocheted around the Everton box, but Tim Howard dived on the ball to prevent it bouncing across the line and after Ba had fired a shot well over, the hosts began to get into their stride.
Marouane Fellaini sent a header off target and five minutes later, the Toffees had the lead when the Belgian midfielder teed up Pienaar, whose strike from outside the box took a deflection off Magpies defender Mike Williamson and looped in.
Pienaar almost had another in the 21st minute, but rifled narrowly wide after the ball had come across goal to him from Leon Osman.
Everton kept pushing forward and just before the half-hour they did double their advantage through their in-form marksman Jelavic.
Having brought the ball down - possibly with his arm - and unleashed one shot which Krul saved, the Croat was alert to tuck away the rebound for his 11th goal since joining the Merseyside club in January.
The hosts were mounting attack after attack, with Krul just beating Fellaini to a cross and Darron Gibson and Osman shooting wide.
Gibson then sent another effort down Krul's throat, with Newcastle's only reply in among the bombardment being a Jonas Gutierrez attempt which whistled the wrong side of the post.
The visitors managed to apply some pressure right at the end of the first half, but Cisse shot wide and Hatem Ben Arfa missed the target with a free-kick.
Cisse dragged a shot wide moments after the restart, but Everton were swiftly back on the offensive, with Jelavic turning and firing off-target.
Gibson brought a save out of Krul with a free-kick and after Howard had got in the way of a Ba strike, the Toffees added a third goal.
Heitinga was the man to head it home, connecting with another Gibson free-kick.
The job looked done for the hosts, but then Hibbert got in a mix-up and headed past his own goalkeeper.
It threw Newcastle a lifeline, and Howard then did well to claw away a header from Cisse.
The visitors could offer no more, though, and Everton might have had a fourth by the end, with Cahill being denied by Krul, Gibson shooting wide and Osman hitting the post.
There were disappointing scenes after the final whistle as players from both sides got involved in a skirmish, with Cahill being shown a red card.
|Everton||Team Statistics||Newcastle United|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|10||Shots on Target||3|
|6||Shots off Target||5|
|53.8||1st Half Poss.||46.2|
|37.7||2nd Half Poss.||62.3|