Salomón Rondón steals Everton’s thunder but Richarlison soon makes their point

Andy Hunter at Goodison Park on 5 December 2018

Rafael Benítez said it was business as usual when asked for an update on the latest takeover talk at Newcastle United. The same applies to his ability to make life difficult for Everton and deliver a viable Premier League concern to whoever takes ownership of St James’ Park.

Newcastle departed with a valuable and well-earned point as they responded impressively to Saturday’s home defeat by West Ham, their only loss in six league games. It could have been three but for Jordan Pickford’s fine late save from Christian Atsu and a poor finish from the same player when clean through on goal in the 90th minute. Not that Benítez was complaining.

Everton had sought a release from the misery of Sunday’s freakish defeat in the Merseyside derby. Pickford’s intervention aside, it proved beyond them. Fatigue and a lack of finesse in attacking positions ensured the after-effects of Anfield lingered for Marco Silva’s team.

“We had chances to win it at the end,” the Newcastle manager said, “but they had won four home games in a row so to get a point in this stadium with the way things are going for us was a credit to our players. The application was fantastic. They have top-class players, players with World Cup and Euros experience coming from the bench, so our players have done a great job.”

Pickford received a rousing ovation from the crowd before kick-off – responding with an appreciative clenched-fist salute following his error at Liverpool – although the away section was predictably scathing in its reception for the born-and-bred Sunderland fan. The baiting intensified when the England No 1 was beaten from the first Newcastle attack of the game.

Ademola Lookman, making his first league start of the season, was dispossessed in the Newcastle half. His appeals for a foul were ignored by the referee as Jacob Murphy raced down the left before delivering a precise cross low along the face of Pickford’s goal. Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina were unable to intercept and Salomón Rondón steered a powerful finish into the roof of the net at the back post. “It was a foul, possibly two, but that is not an excuse because we had to defend that situation better,” said Silva.

Everton, with André Gomes leading a composed display from central midfield, were not unduly disturbed by the setback. The left-wing partnership of Richarlison and Lucas Digne was potent and it engineered excellent chances for Gylfi Sigurdsson and the recalled Cenk Tosun before the interval. Sigurdsson was foiled by a superb block from Federico Fernández while Tosun volleyed straight at Martin Dubravka when picked out by another Digne cross. The home side had levelled at that stage and a 2-1 lead, seconds before the interval, could have changed the complexion of the contest entirely.

Dubravka had produced a fine save from Richarlison after the ball broke from Lookman, who again claimed to have been fouled in the build-up and again in vain. The resulting corner by Sigurdsson took a slight deflection off Jamaal Lascelles and fell invitingly for Richarlison to scoop the ball over the goalkeeper at the back post.

Parity and possession did not produce a commanding second-half display from Everton, who looked heavy-legged and were easily contained by Newcastle’s five-man defence. Lookman and Tosun were fresh but struggled to seize their chance to impress in the starting line-up.

The Everton manager admitted: “Lookman performed like I expected; he had some good moments and some not so good moments. Like the team. Same with Cenk. Newcastle came here with one thing in mind – to keep a strong defensive organisation with nine or 10 players behind the ball and they achieved what they wanted. We didn’t create enough chances in the second half to change the result.”

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