Carlo Ancelotti’s winning start to life as Everton manager continued as a Dominic Calvert-Lewin double secured an impressive 2-1 victory at St James’ Park.
The Blues’ number nine took his tally for December to five goals to help the Toffees inflict a first home league defeat on Newcastle since August and extend their unbeaten run to five matches in the Premier League.
Calvert-Lewin opened the scoring on 13 minutes when he reacted first to tuck home Gylfi Sigurdsson’s deflected free-kick. And despite a Fabian Schar leveller just before the hour mark, the forward ensured the Blues left Tyneside with all three points as he finished from Richarlison’s right-wing cross.
A breathless first half got into swing with just seconds on the clock when Joelinton threaded a through ball for Miguel Almiron to race towards goal but, under pressure from Michael Keane – back in the heart of defence in place of Yerry Mina – the Paraguayan snatched a shot wide of the left-hand post.
Everton may have survived that scare but they soon steadied themselves to take control of the early stages, Sigurdsson and Djibril Sidibe the focal points for plenty of attacking intent down the right flank.
The Blues’ first chance came on 11 minutes when captain Leighton Baines whipped a trademark cross to the back post. Moise Kean’s header was blocked but Richarlison seized possession before cutting a pass across goal for Mason Holgate to smack a goalbound effort which was blocked on the line by Martin Dubravka.
Everton weren’t to be denied moments later, however. Sigurdsson cracked a free-kick from the edge of the area into the Newcastle wall and his rebounded effort fell kindly to Calvert-Lewin who showed predatory striker instinct to arch a finish into the left-hand corner from six yards out.
The Blues went close to doubling their advantage on 15 minutes as Calvert-Lewin turned provider, flicking a pass into the path of Kean to sprint clear down the right channel. The Italian slid a ball into Walcott whose first-time finish was blocked by Fabian Schar.
Everton’s crisp passing was giving the hosts a huge headache and the lively Walcott nearly teed up a second when he glided a delightful centre into the six-yard area but there was no blue shirt to apply the finish.
Having been outplayed for the opening 30 minutes, Newcastle ended the first half strongly. Andy Carroll saw his rebounded finish ruled out for offside after Almiron had hit the post, before the Geordie striker was denied by a brave and well-timed Keane tackle.
Jordan Pickford needed to be alert to palm away a stinging 20-yard Schar drive, and Almiron closed the half as he started it, sprinting down the left channel and firing a finish wide of the near post.
If the home side felt unlucky not to have found a leveller before the half-time whistle, the Blues were back on top after the break. Kean, with his back to goal, did well to create an opening for himself by beating Federico Fernandez and applying a finish that was blocked by the onrushing Dubravka.
And moments later, the teenage forward had the Newcastle defence scrambling as he jinked his way towards goal and drove a low shot which was held by the Toon keeper.
The topsy-turvy tussle took another twist on 56 minutes as Newcastle found the equaliser. Theo Walcott was penalised for a foul on Jetro Willems and, from the left-wing free-kick, Carroll’s back-post header was met by Schar to net from close range.
It was Everton’s turn to be denied by the offside flag on the hour mark when Holgate followed up a corner routine but the defender knew he was in the wrong place as he applied the finish.
Calvert-Lewin timed his run to perfection, though, as the Blues retook the lead on 64 minutes. A rapid counter-attack down the right involving Richarlison and Walcott saw the Brazilian send a low pass into the area for Everton’s number nine to tuck home from a yard out.
For a game that was non-stop before Everton’s second goal, Ancelotti’s men showed resolute defending in the closing stages, keeping their opponents on their toes with more swift counter-attacks, to see out the contest and end 2019 with victory.