Alex Iwobi scored a dramatic 99th-minute winner as Everton took a giant step towards safety with a 1-0 victory over Newcastle.
Both sides were without their most potent attacking threat with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Allan Saint-Maximin only fit enough for places on the bench.
Any fears over Everton’s recent results translating to a toxic atmosphere at Goodison Park were quickly laid to rest. The home crowd were in fine voice in the early going and sought to give their under-fire players as big of a boost as they could.
Each side saw early chances come and go via the heads of Ben Godfrey and Chris Wood. Wood’s reaction to his tame effort suggested he knew he should’ve done better when heading straight at Asmir Begovic from close range.
Newcastle began to find their footing amid the hostile atmosphere and began probing at Everton’s defence from a series of corners. The Toffees backline bent, but did not break after seeing off a period of sustained pressure.
Both sides were fully committed in the tackle with referee Craig Pawson giving each team license to showcase their physicality.
A crunching 50/50 tackle got the crowd going with Anthony Gordon getting the better of Ryan Fraser. However, the Everton forward followed up by floating a 50-yard pass straight out of play to sum up the lack of quality on show in the first half.
What. A. Tackle. 💪
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The second half began in mind-boggling fashion when a fan bizarrely tied himself to the goalpost. The bolt cutters were trotted out as no fewer than ten officials toiled away at freeing the protestor as time stood still.
After a lengthy eight-minute delay, the cable tie around the protestor’s neck was finally cut, much to the relief of the disgruntled Goodison crowd.
Richarlison continued to make a nuisance of himself but found little joy and a booking for his troubles. Instead, Everton’s greatest threat was being posed by Demarai Gray.
The winger fired wide after latching onto a Seamus Coleman cross. In a similar position later on, Gray fired powerfully towards goal but saw his effort superbly blocked by Dan Burn.
Eddie Howe turned to Saint-Maximin in search of inspiration. The lively Frenchman replaced Miguel Almiron with 20 minutes and a boatload of injury time to go. Frank Lampard responded by introducing Calvert-Lewin.
Gordon was a growing influence on proceedings as Everton pushed for a late winner. Calvert-Lewin came within inches of putting his side in front after a neat moving involving Gordon and Richarlison saw a teasing cross narrowly evade the Toffees No 9.
However, any momentum they were building quickly dissipated when Allan saw red for a needless lunge on Saint-Maximin.
Referee Pawson initially brandished a yellow card, but after consulting the pitch-side monitor, upgraded it to red.
That controversy, combined with the myriad of stoppages and the protestor delay saw a whopping 14 minutes of injury time added on.
And nine minutes into injury time, Goodison Park roared when Alex Iwobi bagged one of the most important goals in Everton’s recent history.
After driving at Newcastle’s rearguard, Iwobi found Calvert-Lewin whose neat flick crafted a shooting opportunity for Iwobi. The winger shot back across Martin Dubravka who couldn’t adjust his weight quick enough as Everton took a critical late 1-0 lead.
The match continued into an 18th minute of added time, but it was Everton’s night as the curtain finally came down on a truly vital 1-0 victory.