Everton 3-2 Newcastle United Post Match Review

Unbeaten Everton leapfrogged Chelsea to go fourth in the table courtesy of Romelu Lukaku, who scored two goals and made the other on his home debut. It is a good thing José Mourinho is a calmer, more mature manager these days, otherwise he might be getting fed up with questions about players who are not available for selection, given he has allowed the Belgian to go out on a season-long loan.

Everton were good value for this victory, despite a nervous last few minutes, but in truth they were playing a poor side. “We controlled the game,” Roberto Martínez said. “As you can see, Romelu is not just tall and powerful, he is a clever player too. He opens up space for others. Some of our link-up play was magic at times.

“Lukaku is a young man who has everything as a striker. Sometimes you see a No9 who is powerful and has a great physical presence – what Romelu brings is a real awareness around him. I want him to enjoy his football, I want him to develop and become as good as he can.”

Asked whether he thought Chelsea had made a mistake letting Lukaku join another club, Everton’s manager said: “It will be easy to say that but you need to remember how many strikers they have. You are talking about a squad which has phenomenal talent up front.”

The home side got off to a blistering start, though against opponents as accommodating as Newcastle, most teams would. Lukaku had the ball in the net after just over a minute, only to be recalled for offside, and Kevin Mirallas began the game successfully, finding space to run into down the right.

It was only a matter of time before the two Belgians combined, and they did so to good effect in the fifth minute. Mirallas broke purposefully up the wing, looked up to see where Lukaku wanted the ball and played a low cross for the striker to sweep in with a first-time shot that Tim Krul reached but could not keep out.

After Ross Barkley had sent a sweetly struck drive narrowly wide, Seamus Coleman was next to get away down the right, chasing a Lukaku pass with such tenacity that not even Newcastle tugs at his shirt prevented him from getting into shooting range and forcing a corner.

Everton were clearly on top and emphasised the fact with an elegant second goal midway through the first half. This time Lukaku was the creator, fastening on to a headed clearance and biding his time before cheekily slipping an inch-perfect pass behind Fabricio Coloccini for Barkley to run on to and score without breaking stride. There is still plenty of the season left for early impressions to change, though it cannot have escaped the notice of someone at Stamford Bridge that the top of the table might look completely different were Lukaku and Daniel Sturridge playing in London and not Liverpool.

Lukaku helped himself to another goal before the interval, or rather he was made a present of one by unconvincing Newcastle defending. Tim Howard’s gigantic upfield clearance made it all the way into the opposite penalty area, yet even so Coloccini and Krul were in a position to deal with it. Possibly unnerved by the presence of Lukaku they both failed to take control, leaving the Chelsea loanee to bring the ball down adroitly and step disdainfully around Coloccini’s despairing attempt to recover. It looked as though the Newcastle captain was in for a long night, yet he stuck at his task and came out on top in a couple 50-50 challenges with Lukaku before the break.

Hatem Ben Arfa brought a save from Howard with a snap-shot on the stroke of the interval, which counted as Newcastle’s first attack of any note. The tricky Frenchman was one of their better players when he was on the ball, which was rarely, and Davide Santon also had his moments. As a team, however, Newcastle were all but nonexistent. Playing opponents this flimsy, Everton could stay unbeaten until Christmas, though in fairness their opponents did improve in the second half.

“I had to remind the players of the nuts and bolts of the game,” Alan Pardew said. “At least we won some tackles and headers in the second half and restored a bit of pride but it would have been fortuitous to get anything from the game because in the first half we were not good enough. Our defending was not up to the required standard.”

Yohan Cabaye came on at half-time and immediately gave the Newcastle supporters something to cheer, finding Howard’s top corner with a stunning right-foot curler from 25 yards. It was quite a goal, but as Newcastle had missed an even easier chance when Yoan Gouffran struck a post moments earlier it appeared likely to count only as consolation.

Loïc Rémy’s late poacher’s strike meant the closing seconds were quite frantic – ludicrous in view of what had gone before – but Newcastle had to be content with salvaging a little self-respect from the evening. The damage had been done by their doormat impression in the first half.

Not only did Everton fail to increase their lead in the second period, Lukaku missed his chance of a hat-trick with a wild stab that went miles over the bar. Happily for Mourinho, Lukaku may not be the finished article after all. Happily for Martínez, he cannot be recalled until the end of the season.

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