Lukaku lights up Goodison

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Romelu lukaku first goal Everton v NewcastleGettyImagesRomelu Lukaku opened the scoring after less than five minutes against Newcastle.

Stabilisers removed, the Everton bike is bounding along the Premier League road in the early stages of the season. Inventive and incisive, the style served up in the first half against Newcastle was fit to grace any footballing occasion.

Led by Romelu Lukaku on his home debut, and ably assisted by the midfield lackeys in close attendance, Everton delivered their strongest half of the season -- the key is moulding these halves into full matches.

Players often ease their way into a home debut. Nervous, adjusting to their new teammates, there is a tendency to play it safe and remain on the periphery. Fortunately, for Everton and Roberto Martinez, Lukaku did none of the above.

At the heart of many a flowing move, the Chelsea loanee dismantled the Newcastle defence in the first half, though the visitors did themselves few favours with an error-strewn showing. Claiming two goals and one assist and creating three chances for his teammates, Lukaku announced his Goodison arrival in style.

Sharp movement and a powerful finish defined his opening goal, a delicate touch belying his giant frame created the second for Ross Barkley, and his second of the night combined all of the aforementioned attributes.

Lukaku gives a much-needed focal point in the final third, and the previously toothless but eye-catching passing style instantly improves when a genuine goal threat leads the attack. Furthermore, combining well with those around him, the slow tempo has ceased since the deadline-day arrivals began to feature.

Nevertheless, for all the inevitable, well-earned headlines set to fall the way of Lukaku, his performance stemmed from the industry and artistry of those behind him. Swarming all over the pitch, the influential midfield provided the platform for this entertaining, nerve-jangling victory.

Another making his full home debut, James McCarthy, impressed in central midfield. Alongside Gareth Barry, with the pair building on the vital role played in the second half at West Ham, McCarthy returned another assured display here.

Dominating the midfield, McCarthy passed with composure, tackled strongly and ensured Newcastle had little time in possession. Acquired for an eyebrow-raising £13 million, the midfielder is exhibiting the potential that accompanies such a fee.

Alongside him, Barry supported his defence, kept the ball moving and marked his 500th Premier League appearance in his usual unsung fashion. Further underlining his seamless transition into the Everton team, the midfielder had the most touches (80) and attempted the most passes (75).

In front of the midfield duo sat Ross Barkley. Driving forward from midfield, his suspect decision-making has evolved significantly in recent weeks and months. The penchant for conceding possession and overdoing it are decreasing by the match.

Marking his all-action evening with a calmly taken goal, Barkley linked up well with Lukaku, and this promising partnership bodes well for the immediate future. The duo also linked up well with Kevin Mirallas, who assisted the opening goal, although the Belgian faded badly as injury got the better of him.

For all the positives, however, while the first half offered the good, the second half definitely highlighted the bad and the ugly. Everton were guilty of starting slowly after the interval, and the second Newcastle goal, which ensured a nervy finale, was a defensive eyesore.

Needing to ram home their superiority, the home side appeared to take their foot off the proverbial gas at times. Martinez cannot allow such lapses from his team against Manchester City at the weekend.

Despite the somewhat slack second half, the signs are mostly positive for a squad boosted by the shrewdest of deadline days. Sitting pretty, the only unbeaten team in the league boast home form to match -- this eighth win in nine extends a 12-match unbeaten home run stretching back to December 2012, and it is just one defeat in 26 at Goodison.


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