WHO knows what might have happened had Papiss CissÃ© been sent off for swinging a first-half elbow into Seamus Colemanâ€™s face? Fortunately for Alan Pardew, Craig Pawson, the referee, was looking elsewhere at the time and, shortly afterwards, CissÃ©â€™s equaliser set Newcastle United on course for a hugely restorative win.
It left Everton stuck in a disappointing mid-table position and Roberto MartÃnez ruing bad luck. â€œThere are days when nothing goes in your favour,â€ said the manager. He had one particular moment in mind. â€œElbowing a fellow professional is unacceptable. It should have been spotted. Itâ€™s a clear elbow which is trying to hurt someone and those are not actions we want to see on a football pitch.â€
Pardewâ€™s view on the matter remained unknown as he avoided all post-match media commitments. Whether or not he was playing political games with Mike Ashley or genuinely fancies the Crystal Palace vacancy remains to be seen but John Carver, his assistant, was giving nothing away in the wake of Newcastle arresting a run of four straight defeats.
â€œI was eating a pie when Alan asked me to do the press,â€ said Carver, who claimed not to have seen CissÃ©â€™s transgression.
Initially fortune appeared to be frowning on the home dugout. MartÃnezâ€™s decision to offer Arouna KonÃ© his first Premier League start for Everton while leaving Romelu Lukaku to warm the bench was vindicated, emphatically, in the fifth minute.
With Yoan Gouffran caught out of position, Aiden McGeadyâ€™s delivery deceived Paul Dummett, permitting Coleman to dispatch a fabulous, low, right-wing cross which the unmarked Ivorian striker lashed, gratefully, beyond Jak Alnwick from close range. After 18 largely injury-plagued months on Merseyside it was KonÃ©â€™s first goal since swapping Wigan for Goodison Park in a Â£6m move.
Pardew at once rejigged his formation, relocating Moussa Sissoko from the right and placing his key midfielder in a more central role with Ayoze PÃ©rez switching to the flank.
With Everton ruffled, CissÃ©, making only his sixth start this season, registered his ninth goal of the campaign in the 34th minute. It is far from a shabby tally for a player still clearly troubled by complications in a knee following surgery last April. The strikerâ€™s expertly volleyed equaliser, after being cued up by Cheick TiotÃ©â€™s cross and Mike Williamsonâ€™s far-post flick-on, was characteristically accomplished.
CissÃ© was somewhat fortunate to be on the pitch, having earlier caught Coleman in the cheek with his elbow in an incident that seemed worthy of a red card. Not that the Senegal striker is likely to evade justice entirely. If Pawsonâ€™s report confirms he did not spot the swinging arm, the Football Association can be expected to use video evidence to punish CissÃ© retrospectively.
With the impressive McGeady frequentlyunsettling Pardewâ€™s players â€“ Gouffran in particular â€“ and Everton looking a little wobbly whenever Moussa Sissoko ran at them, the game was in the balance for a while.Attempting to regain the initiative, MartÃnez introduced Ross Barkley at half-time, withdrawing James McCarthy whose effectiveness had been reduced by both a yellow card and a tight hamstring.
A couple of exciting cameos from the newcomer meant all eyes were on the England international but this was destined to be neither his nor Evertonâ€™s day.
When McGeady conceded possession, TiotÃ©â€™s through-ball picked out PÃ©rezâ€™s fast feet in the 51st minute. After taking a steadying touch the former Tenerife forward beat Joel Robles courtesy of an excellent shot dispatched through Colemanâ€™s legs and into the bottom corner.
Dusk had long since descended but Pardewâ€™s horizon brightened further when Barkleyâ€™s attempt to intercept Janmaatâ€™s through-ball resulted in a heavy touch which merely succeeded in nudging the ball into Jack Colbackâ€™s path. It left Colback to slip a shot beneath the advancing Robles in the 68th minute for his first goal since swapping Sunderland for Newcastle, celebrated in front of the Gallowgate End.
Kevin Mirallas, on as a substitute, ensured a tense finale by chipping Alnwick after Leighton Bainesâ€™ splendid pass caught the home defence square with six minutes remaining.
Man of the match Ayoze PÃ©rez (Newcastle United) – The Guardian