Newcastle Utd 2 Everton 0: Solano's double strike extends Roeder revival

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The Independent Online

It would appear that management, like goalscoring, is coming easy to Alan Shearer. This ultimately comfortable victory, secured by Nolberto Solano on a truly miserable night in the North-east, was Newcastle's fifth unbeaten under the caretaker manager, Glenn Roeder, and his ambitious sidekick.

Shearer celebrated both goals from his sodden perch in the St James' Park dug-out after injury again ruled him out of a frontline role. And if the hand-clapping was relatively muted by the former England striker's standards there is no doubting that he enjoyed every minute of his latest spell on the touchline.

Shearer rose to salute Solano's magnificent second - both fan and coach shining through in his emotional response to a special strike - and the Peruvian is playing an increasingly vital role in a late push for Europe.

"We can finish sixth but top eight is what we're aiming for," said the former Boca Juniors player. "Hopefully, we can finish the season strongly. With performances like that why not?"

Newcastle's interim management team is plotting an impressive course towards the Premiership's top eight. Roeder and Shearer are clearly revelling in their temporary posts and the former admitted that he is loving every minute of his time at the helm of a club also looking forward to next month's FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea.

David Moyes, of course, would caution both men against over-optimism. This time last year the Scot was flavour of the month on the blue half of Merseyside, but it has taken Everton's manager six months to shake off the burden of last season's success.

Earlier this season the Blues discovered that the weight of expectation is particularly heavy on those teams which have risen most rapidly during the previous 12 months.

For the first half of a largely disappointing campaign, David Moyes' men found that qualifying for Champions' League football last summer proved little more than a poisoned chalice as repeated failure followed sustained success.

Poor judgement in the transfer market and bad luck with injuries to key players saw Everton transformed from top four contenders to relegation candidates but, to the enduring credit of Bill Kenwright and his board, there was no hasty reshuffle of a management team which deserved time to recover.

By Christmas that policy was paying dividends and a 1-0 win at Sunderland, with the fit again Tim Cahill the ebullient architect, hinted at a long-awaited revival. Everton returned to the North-east yesterday evening with the longest current unbeat-en record in the Premiership, eight games underpinning an impressive ascent into mid-table.

The visitors started the stronger of the two teams and Turkish international Emre headed clear a brace of David Weir efforts before Newcastle crafted their best opportunity of the half. Sander Westerveld, on his debut, deserved immense credit for the reaction save which thwarted Solano in the dying stages of first-half injury time.

However, Newcastle's influential midfielder would not be denied and 19 minutes after the restart the diminutive playmaker forced home the first of his two goals - the 50th club strike of a productive career in English football. With the cushion of that lead a player renowned for the sublime added a touch of class to a fixture often mired in mediocrity. Receiving the ball just inside the 18-yard area, a left-foot shot looked on. Solano, however, utilised his favoured right to curl a wonderful strike with the outside of his boot beyond the flapping Westerveld.

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