Everton were left wishing he had been sent home already. The main reason the Toffeemen came unstuck on a cloying St James' Park pitch was the strikingly different forward with the strikingly polished pate.
He scored twice and set up an Alan Shearer goal as Newcastle moved within one match of returning to the twin domes of Wembley for the FA Cup final. They did so under the guidance of Ruud Gullit, who lifted the old tin pot with Chelsea two years ago, but, ironically, with the vital assistance of two bargain buys he inherited from the manager who presided over Newcastle's Cup final embarrassment against Arsenal last May.
Kenny Dalglish could have been excused a wry smile in the television commentary box as he watched Ketsbaia and George Georgiadis, who scored Newcastle's crucial second goal, steer his old club into the semi-finals. He brought the former to St James' Park on a free-transfer from AEK Athens and the latter from Panathinaikos for pounds 450,000. It was his successor, though, who wore the broadest smile afterwards. "We are going in the right direction," Gullit said. "The players are responding well to what we want to do here. I think sometimes they don't believe how good they can play."
Everton have not won at St James' since Boxing Day 1986, en route to their second championship under Howard Kendall. They still had Dave Watson at the heart of their defence yesterday but they were found short of trophy-winning quality in the final half-an hour.
That they were short of luck, too, was evident from the 10th minute, when Francis Jeffers shot across the face of the home goal after Nick Barmby found the teenager unmarked on the left angle of the Newcastle penalty area. Fortune did not favour them in the 20th minute, either.
The right-foot shot Ketsbaia delivered from 20 yards would have been tipped wide by Thomas Myhre had it not taken a deflection off Marco Materazzi on its way towards the Leazes End goal. The build-up, however, was worthy of reward, Shearer having flicked Silvio Maric's ball from the left invitingly into the path of his striking partner.
It was a different story after the break. With Don Hutchison pushed forward and Barmby scheming impishly, Everton took control for quarter-of-an-hour.
They drew level in the 57th minute, David Unsworth unleashing an unstoppable left-foot shot from the fringe of the Newcastle penalty area. The tide, however, turned decisively against them five minutes later.
Hutchison left Shearer in a heap 25 yards from goal and Myhre was unable to hold on to the low free-kick Dietmar Hamann swept into the goalmouth. Materazzi tried to hack the loose ball clear but Georgiadis, a 54th-minute substitute for the debutant Maric, returned it with interest, his low shot rubbing salt into the Italian defender's wounds as it took a deflection off him on its way into the net.
Georgiadis, 27 today, was celebrating again after 73 minutes. It was his rolled pass from the left that led to Ketsbaia's second goal, though it was no formality for the Georgian, who jinked inside his marker before beating Myhre with a sweetly-struck left foot drive.
It gave Newcastle the luxury of a two-goal cushion but they ventured further into the comfort zone before the final whistle. After the Georgian and Georgiadis, it was left to a Geordie to have the final say on the score-sheet nine minutes from time.
It was a superbly crafted goal that spoke volumes for the fluent football Gullit has slowly teased from his team in his six months on Tyneside. Hamann launched the move with a fine ball to Shearer, who finished it with a blasting right-foot shot - after exchanging passes with Ketsbaia, who had to elude three defenders to keep the attack in motion.
The hope on Tyneside today is that Newcastle can somehow keep the Georgian Geordie.
Goals: Ketsbaia (21) 1-0; Unsworth (57) 1-1; Georgiadis (62) 2-1; Ketsbaia (73) 3-1; Shearer (81) 4-1.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Barton, Dabizas, Howey, Domi; Solano, Lee, Hamann, Maric (Georgiadis, 54); Shearer, Ketsbaia. Substitutes not used: Charvet, Saha, Brady, Harper (gk).
Everton (4-4-2): Myhre; Weir, Watson, Materazzi, O'Kane; Barmby, Unsworth, Hutchison, Grant; Jeffers (Oster, 74), Cardamarteri (Bakayoko, 74). Substitutes not used: Short, Branch, Simonsen (gk).
Referee: G Barber (Surrey).
Bookings: Newcastle: Barton, Dabizas; Everton: Hutchison.
Man of the match: Barmby.
Attendance: 36,594.Reuse content