Newcastle United v Everton
Ross Barkley’s wondergoal set Everton on their way to victory at St James’ Park.
The 20-year-old’s barnstorming run from his own half and thunderous finish lit up the first half before Romelu Lukaku doubled the lead after half time.
Leon Osman’s late strike made it safe and ensured that the Blues' Champions League hopes still burn brightly with just eight games of the season remaining.
Roberto Martinez freshened up his starting XI following the win over Swansea three days earlier with Osman and Gerard Deulofeu handed starts.
But it was the home side who enjoyed a flurry of early chances.
Luuk De Jong’s second minute volley was deflected over and from the corner Papiss Cisse and then Yoan Gouffran were denied by vital blocks from Osman and John Stones.
Then Gouffran miscued again when in acres of space 12 yards out.
After the early drama things died down although Everton did force a number of corners.
Soon though, Lukaku was denied by Tim Krul after Osman’s brilliant one touch pass.
Then the first half entered its decisive phase. In the 21st minute Cisse raced onto Moussa Sissoko’s through-ball on a Newcastle counter and Seamus Coleman’s sliding tackle averted the danger.
It proved a key intervention as Everton broke from the corner to take a stunning lead.
What a goal it was. Everton cleared the corner, Barkley picked it up midway inside his own half and ran at the heart of the defence, beating man after man.
Lukaku’s run distracted the Magpies back-tracking markers and allowed the academy graduate to bear down on Krul and slam home emphatically with his left foot.
The home side sought parity and in the 33rd minute dogged work from James McCarthy, John Stones and Coleman prevented Cisse striking at goal from inside the six-yard box and Tim Howard easily fielded Mike Williamson’s shot moments later.
Shortly before half time Stones picked up a head injury in an aerial clash and promptly disappeared down the tunnel for attention.
He returned wearing a fetching bandage, just in time to see Deulofeu fizz a dangerous low ball across the six yard just before the interval.
Gouffran sliced a volley over at the start of the second period but it was Everton who doubled their lead just six minutes into the second period.
Lukaku continued his goal spree with a near post finish after Osman’s chipped pass had freed Deulofeu down the right.
The Spaniard’s ball was perfect for the Belgian who had timed his run too perfection after keeping himself onside.
Howard parried Cheik Tiote’s powerful drive over the bar and Gouffran again fired over as the Magpies tried to manufacture a way back into the game.
Lukaku forced Krul into action when he broke clear with just over 15 minutes to go but it was the home side who were turning the screw.
There was a let-off for Everton when Vurnon Anita shanked a sitter wide after great work from sub Hatem Ben Arfa.
Soon Howard went full length to claw away Cisse’s header but then Osman put the game to bed.
Steven Naismith lead the counter attack and Deulofeu and Lukaku were involved before the veteran midfielder and captain for the night jinked into space and despatched the ball into the top corner.