Toffees gain gritty home success
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Everton climbed out of the relegation zone after a battling 1-0 win over Newcastle United.
Everton climbed out of the relegation zone after securing a battling 1-0 win over Newcastle United in a bad-tempered contest at Goodison Park.
Joseph Yobo's header early in the second half proved decisive as The Magpies, minus the injured Michael Owen, offered little to trouble the home side after the interval.
A scrappy first half was, perhaps, best summed up by the inadequacies of Shola Ameobi who, when not conceding free kicks, was coughing up possession and tripping up over the ball.
Newcastle keeper Shay Given pushed out a ninth minute free kick from James McFadden, with the visitors scrambling the ball clear as the hosts sniffed an opening goal.
Celestine Babayaro was booked for pulling back Tim Cahill and that appeared to be the start of a simmering feud between the pair.
Ameobi cut inside the penalty area and shot straight at Nigel Martyn, while Nolberto Solano curled a free kick just off target as The Magpies created the bulk of the chances.
Charles N'Zogbia had a shot comfortably stopped by Martyn, while Titus Bramble, who was more effective as an attacking force than in defence, had a close range effort blocked by the post.
Bramble then turned provider on the half hour for his skipper as he threaded a perceptive pass through to Alan Shearer, who rounded Martyn but saw his shot cleared off the line by James Beattie.
Mikel Arteta flicked a shot wide at the far post, following slack defending from Babayaro, while Ameobi shot straight at Martyn from the edge of the area after spurning the wise option of passing to the unmarked Emre Belozoglu.
On 40 minutes, the visitors had a strong shout for a penalty dismissed when Ameobi's volley struck McFadden's retreating arm and, from the resulting corner, Shearer's shot on the turn was stopped by Martyn's leg.
Tempers frayed as half time loomed with Cahill swinging an arm at Babayaro and the Nigerian reacted by punching the Australian on the nose.
Babayaro was fortunate not to be sent off, along with Cahill, and Newcastle's luck continued on 45 minutes when Bramble created more unrest for his own defence.
He conceded possession to Cahill, who supplied Andy van der Meyde in space. The Dutchman's scuffed shot was beaten out by Given into the path of Bramble, who succeeded in clearing straight to McFadden, who blazed his shot over the bar.
Everton needed less than a minute of the second half to forge in front after McFadden's low shot had been turned behind for a corner by Given.
Arteta whipped in the set-piece and Yobo climbed above Peter Ramage to power a header beyond Given's despairing dive.
A weak headed clearance from Bramble provided The Toffees with another opportunity just before the hour, but Arteta thumped his volley into the floor and Martyn saved easily.
There continued to be an undercurrent of bad blood and that rose to the surface again when Arteta went down late after a Scott Parker challenge.
Magpies veteran Shearer was then lucky to escape a red card after a seemingly pre-meditated elbow in David Weir's face went unpunished before Parker slashed a good chance wide of the target.
Everton should have sewn the game up on 79 minutes when the Newcastle defence was stretched across Goodison Park. Simon Davies was played in and unselfishly squared for Beattie, but he smashed his shot over the bar when a smidgen of composure from 12 yards out would have resulted in a second goal.
In the final minute, Given had to be alert to push away a fiercely struck shot from McFadden and, in injury time, a second goal eluded the hosts as the Scottish striker's shot was fumbled by the Newcastle keeper, who then saved twice from Cahill.
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|Everton||Team Statistics||Newcastle United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||6|
|4||Shots off Target||6|