January 2, 2013
Anichebe worsens Magpies plight
Everton substitute Victor Anichebe plunged Newcastle deeper into crisis as a difficult day on Tyneside ended in a 2-1 loss.
The striker needed just two minutes to steer home Nikica Jelavic's cross to complete a comeback which saw the Toffees condemn the Magpies to a ninth defeat in 11 Barclays Premier League games.
That was the last thing manager Alan Pardew needed with leading scorer Demba Ba finalising his transfer to Chelsea, while Mathieu Debuchy - sitting in the stands as he prepared to complete his move from Lille - was left in little doubt about the fight into which he is about to be plunged.
It had all started so well for the home side when Papiss Cisse headed them in front with just 72 seconds played, but Leighton Baines' stunning free-kick cancelled out the advantage two minutes before the break to set the stage for Anichebe to win it on the hour.
With Ba's move all but complete as the game kicked off, the onus fell on Cisse to reprise his stunning form during the second half of last season, and despite once again being asked to play a wide role, he obliged with less than two minutes gone.
The Everton defence inexplicably allowed goalkeeper Tim Krul's long clearance to bounce on the edge of the penalty area and having gambled on the ball reaching him, the Senegal international calmly headed it over the stranded Tim Howard.
It might have been 2-0 had Cisse been able to stretch just a few inches further to meet Shola Ameobi's cross in front of goal with the home side in determined mood.
However, after the initial flurry abated, the visitors started to exercise a measure of control and would have been level within two minutes had it not been for the excellence of Krul.
Baines' dipping free-kick seemed destined for the back of the net until the Dutchman threw out a hand as he flew across goal and managed to palm the ball around the post, and it was not to be his last activity of the half.
Everton were targeting Newcastle's right-hand side where Cisse was doing his best to protect full-back James Perch, but with Baines and Steven Pienaar a constant threat, the Magpies were repeatedly stretched.
Marouane Fellaini, back in the team after completing a three-match ban, forced a fine 24th-minute block from Davide Santon after accepting Pienaar's square ball, and the South Africa international looked odds on to equalise eight minutes later after being played in by Baines, only for Krul to come out on top.
In the meantime, Pardew's men had come agonisingly close to extending their lead when Perch headed Vurnon Anita's free-kick against the inside of the post.
In an end-to-end encounter both sides pressed repeatedly, but Newcastle were guilty of conceding a series of free-kicks in dangerous territory to invite pressure on to themselves.
They did it once too often with two minutes of the half remaining when skipper Fabricio Coloccini was harshly adjudged to have fouled Fellaini with the midfielder backing into him, and Baines took full advantage.
The England international stepped up to blast the resulting free-kick past Krul from the best part of 30 yards, prompting celebrations among the travelling fans and a tirade of abuse aimed at referee Martin Atkinson from the locals.
Sylvain Marveaux was handed a chance to match Baines' strike three minutes after the restart after John Heitinga had hauled Shola Ameobi to the ground, but the Frenchman drilled his effort harmlessly into the wall.
Newcastle came agonisingly close to taking the lead when Shola Ameobi expertly controlled Marveaux's 58th-minute ball over the top and stabbed it past the advancing Howard, but also just past the post.
And the home side were caught out two minutes later when Jelavic cut inside from the left and crossed for Anichebe to slot home at the near post.
Gabriel Obertan tested Howard at his near post with a 65th-minute shot after being set away by Shola Ameobi, and Cisse headed at Heitinga and saw the ball drop nicely for Howard four minutes later.
But Krul had to tip Fellaini's audacious 71st-minute flick over the bar and Baines curled another free-kick just wide with Everton looking the more dangerous.
Santon passed up a glorious opportunity on 83 minutes after being played in by Shola Ameobi and forced a second save from Howard three minutes later, but the late flurry came up short.
|1 Tim Krul||24 Tim Howard|
|24 Ismael Cheik Tioté||21 Leon Osman|
|3 Davide Santon||3 Leighton Baines|
|6 Michael Williamson||5 John Heitinga|
|14 James Perch||6 Phil Jagielka|
|9 Papiss Demba Cisse||14 Steven Naismith|
|2 Fabricio Coloccini||15 Sylvain Distin|
|25 Gabriel Obertan||22 Steven Pienaar|
|23 Shola Ameobi||7 Nikica Jelavic|
|22 Sylvain Marveaux||25 Marouane Fellaini|
|8 Vurnon Anita||18 Phil Neville|
|21 Robert Elliot||Thomas Hitzlsperger 16|
|30 Nile Ranger||Victor Anichebe 28|
|31 Shane Ferguson||Magaye Gueye 19|
|34 James Tavernier||Jan Mucha 1|
|20 Gael Bigirimana||Apostolos Vellios 27|
|28 Sammy Ameobi||Shane Duffy 34|
|39 Mehdi Abeid||Bryan Oviedo 8|
|Gael Bigirimana for Gabriel Obertan (65)||Victor Anichebe for Steven Naismith (58)|
|Sammy Ameobi for Ismael Cheik Tioté (80)||Bryan Oviedo for Nikica Jelavic (88)|
|Nile Ranger for James Perch (87)|
|Papiss Demba Cisse (41)||John Heitinga (47)|
|Michael Williamson (53)||Steven Pienaar (80)|
|Ismael Cheik Tioté (68)|
|· Squads: Newcastle United | Everton|