Everton's players had a point to make after their midweek FA Cup exit against Reading, while the memory that spurred on Victor Anichebe stretched back to 2009. Two years ago, Anichebe's season ended here after an over-the-top tackle by Kevin Nolan that earned the Newcastle captain a red card. Nolan was sued by Anichebe for loss of earnings, a case that was settled out of court in midweek, but it was not the final word in their feud.
Shortly after going on as a substitute, the Everton striker bumped into Nolan when the ball was yards away and they stood toe-to-toe until the referee, Howard Webb, stepped in and booked both of them. They also exchanged words after Anichebe's strong challenge on Nolan in the final seconds.
Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, described it as "much ado about nothing", and Steve Round, the Everton coach, insisted: "I didn't really think anything of it. It was the coming together of two players which happens in games. I thought the referee handled it exceptionally well, telling them to calm and get on with the game."
At least Anichebe had the satisfaction of helping Everton emerge on top. Everton needed this success after their Cup exit and it was hard-earned having gone behind to a Leon Best header. With Mikel Arteta controlling affairs from the left of their midfield, Everton hit back through Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka before half-time. Round said: "It was the response we wanted after midweek. We needed to bounce back, the players felt they had let down the supporters and the football club. The players were very low and most of the motivation came from them. They were determined to put it right, really determined to show the true Everton and get a win."
Pardew was forced to play full-back Danny Simpson in midfield because of the absence of Joey Barton and Stephen Ireland through injuries and the suspension of Ryan Taylor. Simpson never looked at home in his new role and was missing when Arteta produced the first hint of a goal after 17 minutes when he was allowed to cut inside and unleash a shot that was turned over by Steve Harper. It was an encouraging start by Everton who had injury problems of their own with Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini, two crucial elements of their team. among their absentees.
Their defensive failings surfaced again, however, in the 23rd minute as Newcastle went ahead. Mike Williamson, allowed too much room inside, set up Nolan for an angled shot that was saved by goalkeeper Tim Howard, but left Best with an easy task to stoop and head in his sixth goal of the season.
Everton were level within eight minutes with a goal that exposed the right flank of Newcastle where Steven Taylor had been drafted in at right back. Arteta was able to send in a low cross that Osman steered in with the assistance of a slight deflection off Jose Enrique. And they were ahead inside another five minutes when Jagielka arrived at the far post to claim his first goal of the season after Newcastle failed to deal with Leighton Baines' excellent free kick.
Shola Ameobi, on for the injured Enrique, gave Newcastle a cutting edge at the start of the second half and forced Howard to save twice in quick succession. But Everton looked sharper and more inventive, with Harper having to save twice from Jermaine Beckford and Louis Saha squandering a good opportunity from another Arteta cross.
Pardew said: "When we took the lead we looked comfortable and our left side was causing them a lot of problems but we got caught twice and then it was going to be an uphill task, especially when Enrique got injured as well, that unbalanced us a bit."
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the match: ArtetaReuse content