Toon crawl over finish line in low key fashion
NEWCASTLE UNITED ended their troubled campaign with a 3-1 defeat at Everton today as the Toffees secured their place in the UEFA Cup.
On a tough afternoon for Kevin KeeganÃ¢ÂÂs side only the brilliance of Steve Harper prevented the scoreline getting out of hand on Merseyside.
United boss Kevin Keegan handed Andy Carroll his full Toon debut as the Geordie striker replaced Achilles victim Mark Viduka in a 4-4-2 formation.
With Joey Barton unavailable Charles NÃ¢ÂÂZogbia was also handed a start along with Alan Smith who replaced Oba Martins with the Nigerian not even making the bench.
Peter Ramage pulled on a black and white shirt for the last time to join youngsters Ben Tozer and Kazenga LuaLua as subs.
Everton knew they needed to win the game at Goodison to secure their place in the UEFA Cup meaning there was a crackling atmosphere ahead of kick-off.
Carroll created UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs first real chance when he let fly from outside the area but Yank goalie Tim Howard held on to his shot.
Everton though looked up for the challenge and hit back when Yakubu fired in a similar effort that flew inches wide.
Harper had to produce a powerful block to deny Victor Anichebe on 24 minutes after the Nigerian tried one from a tight angle.
But it was AnichebeÃ¢ÂÂs Nigerian colleague who opened the scores four minutes later.
Damien Duff gave away a needless free-kick when he pulled back Steven Pienaar to allow Manuel Fernandes to curl a perfect set-piece into the danger area for Yakubu to steer a header past Harper.
Everton fans then watched Harper deny them again with eight minutes of the half left as he kept out Fernandes with a fine block before YakubuÃ¢ÂÂs follow up whistled past the post.
Harper then almost fumbled AnichebeÃ¢ÂÂs ambitious drive into the net but the ball squirmed round the post with the home side bossing the game in the first period.
With Abdoulaye Faye picking up a knock in the first half Keegan replaced the Senegal star with Cacapa during the interval.
Newcastle started the second half in fine style when NÃ¢ÂÂZogbia made a bustling run into the box with Joseph Yobo upending the Frenchman and ref Peter Walton pointing straight to the spot.
And Michael Owen Ã¢ÂÂ linked with a move to Man United this morning Ã¢ÂÂ rolled it home to level the scores on 47 minutes and stun Goodison Park.
Yet Harper had to pull another fine save out of the bad nine minutes into the second half.
A Fernandes free-kick was whipped in powerfully with the Easington-born stopper tipping the ball over the bar.
Thunder and lightning in the second half transformed the summer backdrop that topless Toon fans had enjoyed in the first period but Everton still dominated the contest.
However, as the rain lashed down United reached the hour mark on level terms.
But Everton regained the lead with 20 minutes to go as Newcastle caved in.
Steven Taylor could only divert FernandesÃ¢ÂÂ dead ball into the path of Joleon Lescott with the England defenderÃ¢ÂÂs side footed finish enough to beat Harper and trickle into the bottom corner for his tenth goal of the season.
On the 75 minute mark Harper then denied Anichebe after he was given the freedom of Goodison before the Toon keeper turned his effort wide of the post.
With 13 minutes remaining LuaLua was handed a slice of the action as he replaced Jose Enrique.
As the game drifted into the final 10 minutes Leon OsmanÃ¢ÂÂs run into the box was brought to an abrupt end by Taylor with Walton awarding the second spot-kick of the day.
This time Yakubu stepped up and sent Harper the wrong way for 3-1.
Ramage made a farewell appearance in stoppage time but like on many occasions this season - it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt NewcastleÃ¢ÂÂs day.
EVERTON: Howard, Yobo (Baines 85), Lescott, Jagielka, Neville, Pienaar, Osman, Yakubu, Fernandes, Carsley (Rodwell 90), Anichebe (Gravesen 85).
Subs: Gosling, Wessells
UNITED: Harper, Beye, Taylor (Ramage 90), Faye (Cacapa 46), Enrique (LuaLua 78), Duff, Butt, NÃ¢ÂÂZogbia, Smith, Carroll, Owen.
Subs: Forster, Tozer