Shearer raises Newcastle horizon

Newcastle United 4 Everton 2
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The Independent Online

The Newcastle manager, Sir Bobby Robson, saluted veterans Gary Speed and Alan Shearer after they paved the way for the victory which took his side into fourth place in the Premiership.

The Newcastle manager, Sir Bobby Robson, saluted veterans Gary Speed and Alan Shearer after they paved the way for the victory which took his side into fourth place in the Premiership.

Speed, who had been a doubt with the stomach bug that forced him to miss Wales' midweek friendly, turned in a sterling display, while Shearer scored two second-half goals to take his tally for the season to 26. Such was the Welshman's influence that Robson allowed his side to play for five minutes with only 10 men as Speed underwent treatment off the field. "Gary Speed was enormous for us because he's been ill midweek and was ill this morning," Robson said. "I got a message at 12 o'clock saying he was not very well and was coming in but unlikely to play. He felt a bit better by the time he arrived and I decided I would take a chance with him for half an hour. He played all the match and fought hard for us and was outstanding in terms of that."

Craig Bellamy started the ball rolling for Newcastle with just five minutes gone when he latched on to Shearer's flick-on and rounded Nigel Martyn to open the scoring. Thomas Gravesen levelled on 13 minutes for Everton, but Kieron Dyer restored the home side's advantage eight minutes later with his first goal since February last year.

Everton, without their talisman Wayne Rooney, who was suspended, rallied after the break, and even though Shearer made it 3-1 on 52 minutes, Steve Watson had a header ruled out for offside before Joseph Yobo pulled one back nine minutes from time.

Shearer, though, was not finished, and in the penultimate minute thumped home his second to wrap up the points. Robson said: "I was thinking, 'Can I take [Shearer] off with 20 minutes to go?' because we have a tough match on Thursday and he's 33, but I couldn't do it."

The Everton manager, David Moyes, was unhappy that Watson's 66th-minute header had been ruled out. "It was a goal," he said. "We're fortunate enough to have been able to watch it on the laptop, and it was a goal. If it hadn't been for dreadful individual mistakes - I didn't see Jonathan Woodgate or Titus Bramble make the mistakes our defenders made - we might have got something out of the game."

Bellamy needed little time to take his tally for the season to nine and give Newcastle the ideal start. He raced on to Shearer's knock-down before holding off David Unsworth and expertly rounding the Everton goalkeeper, Nigel Martyn, to open the scoring. However, the visitors responded after Tomasz Radzinski was allowed time and space down the left to pull the ball back for Gravesen, who thumped a first-time shot past Shay Given. Newcastle soon dampened the Everton revival as Dyer, who had earlier missed a good chance at the near post, played a ball out to Darren Ambrose and then made his way into the penalty area to head Ambrose's cross past Martyn.

As Newcastle's nerves started to jangle in the second half, Shearer provided the sedative. The Newcastle captain capitalised on Yobo's error to claim his 25th goal of the season and ease the tension. Speed and Campbell flew into a no-holds-barred challenge on halfway and the ball flew towards the veteran striker and Yobo. The Everton defender took his eye off the ball to allow Shearerto home in on goal and, after calmly drawing Martyn, make it 3-1.

Everton still battled away and were rewarded when Yobo took advantage of slack marking. But Shearer made sure there would be no twist in the tail.

Newcastle United 4
Bellamy 5, Dyer 21, Shearer 52, 89

Everton 2
Gravesen 13, Yobo 81

Half-time: 2-1 Attendance: 52,155

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