Alex Iwobi was the hero for relegation-threatened Everton on Thursday as his 99th-minute strike secured a 1-0 win over Newcastle United at Goodison Park.
Late Iwobi winner inches Everton closer to safety
The Nigeria international netted his second goal of the Premier League season to put some distance between Frank Lampard's side and the drop zone.
The winner, expertly taken following a one-two with striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, snapped a run of four games without a win for the Toffees, who had been reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of midfielder Allan in the 83rd minute.
Iwobi was restored to the starting line-up as one of four changes following the weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In what was an attritional, physical encounter on Merseyside, both teams struggled to get going or create clear chances on the night, but it was the visiting Newcastle United who enjoyed the better of the exchanges in the first half. Iwobi, despite an energetic performance on the right flank, was largely anonymous in possession.
The second period however saw Frank Lampard’s side come into the game more, and the introduction of striker Calvert-Lewin with a quarter of an hour to play provided an injection of threat and directness that had been previously absent.
However, the decision by referee Craig Pawson to send off Allan for a cynical challenge on Allan Saint-Maximin threatened to completely deflate Everton’s momentum. Having first awarded a yellow card for the Brazilian’s trip, Pawson upgraded the card to red following a consultation with the pitchside monitor.
An extended period of stoppage time, the result of a pitch invader earlier in the second half, saw Newcastle push for a winner.
However, they would be stunned at the other end when Iwobi won a challenge in midfield and came away with possession. The Nigeria international then exchanged passes with Calvert-Lewin, before firing a low shot past Martin Dubravka in the Toon goal, sparking wild scenes of jubilation on the Everton bench and in the stands.
The result means back-to-back Premier League losses for Newcastle for the first time since mid-December. It also sees Everton put a three-point buffer between themselves and the relegation zone with two games in hand on 18th-placed Watford.