Callum Wilson brace halts Everton’s bid to return to top of Premier League
Callum Wilson’s double dashed Everton’s hopes of returning to the top of the Premier League table as England keeper Jordan Pickford watched from the bench.
Pickford was rested by manager Carlo Ancelotti after a turbulent few weeks, but replacement Robin Olsen could not keep out Wilson’s 56th-minute penalty and his late second to prevent a much-changed Toffees’ side from slipping to a 2-1 defeat at St James’ Park.
His absence was the major talking point on an afternoon when the visitors, blunted without the injured James Rodriguez and the suspended Richarlison, rarely looked like bouncing back from their first reverse of the campaign at Southampton despite Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s late goal.
Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce had bristled at suggestions that his team was boring in the run-up to the game, and they were little more than functional, if marginally the better team on the day.
Having revealed before kick-off that he had taken Pickford out of the firing line, but that he would return against Manchester United next weekend, Ancelotti put his faith in Sweden international Olsen and he, like opposite number Karl Darlow, enjoyed a quiet start to his afternoon.
Newcastle enjoyed plenty of early possession, but with the visitors pressing high, not in areas in which they could make an impact on the game, while Everton were unable to stretch a well-marshalled home defence with width at a premium.
Andre Gomes was doing his best to link with in-form striker Calvert-Lewin, but to no telling effect while Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron were making little progress going the other way.
However, it was the Paraguay international who unlocked the door 14 minutes before the break after Darlow had punched away Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner, racing away to feed Wilson, whose inch-perfect pass to Saint-Maximin deserved a better reward than the save Olsen made as he raced from his line.
Calvert-Lewin, who had seen a 44th-minute drive blocked at source by Federico Fernandez, needed treatment minutes into the second half after a clash of heads with Fabian Schar as he headed a Jonjoe Kenny cross dangerously back across goal.
With wing-backs Jacob Murphy and Jamal Lewis far more prominent, the Magpies were playing considerably higher up the pitch, and they got their reward within 11 minutes of the restart after Gomes had fouled Wilson as he attempted to clear Sean Longstaff’s near-post corner.
The striker stepped up to send Olsen the wrong way from the spot, but it would have been 2-0 within two minutes had the Swede not produced a fine reaction save to turn over Longstaff’s close-range strike.
The game opened up as the Toffees pressed for an equaliser, and the Magpies looked to have wrapped it up six minutes from time when substitute Ryan Fraser surged into space on the left and crossed for Wilson to score at the far post.
However, Calvert-Lewin’s injury-time strike – his 12th of the season – made for a tense conclusion during which a back-pedalling Darlow had to tip Bernardo’s looping effort over.