Everton toast in-form James McCarthy

Home is where the heart is, and James McCarthy helped domestic bliss finally return to Goodison Park for Evertonians.

Everton toast in-form James McCarthy

The Toffees had become a little unstuck on their own turf in the Premier League recently which has seen Everton manager Roberto Martinez come increasing scrutiny.

Undoubtedly Martinez’s side have been impressive in the Europa League, but on the domestic front all the talk was of relegation battles.

But inspired by an all-action performance from Republic of Ireland midfielder McCarthy, capped with a goal, they secured a first league win on home soil since a 3-1 victory over QPR in mid-December.

Everton are not clear of danger yet, but this was a result which significantly eased the tension which has engulfed league games at Goodison since the back end of last year.

Victory with style had been the signature of Martinez’s team in the previous campaign, and he had urged his team to play with the kind of freedom seen on their European adventures.

This win over Newcastle United, though, owed as much to the dogged determination of Everton’s players, who rolled up their sleeves and gritted their teeth.

Fighters like Leon Osman, Phil Jagielka and Darron Gibson had as big a hand in the win secured by goals from McCarthy, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley.

And despite the categorical nature of the final scoreline it also had more than element of fortune as Newcastle’s were to a large extent architects of their own downfall.

A goalkeeping blunder, a needless penalty, and sending off with just over a third of the game remaining, cost the visitors dearly.

“In the past there has been a fear of losing and a fearful approach,” Martinez said. “Against Newcastle I saw a team with the mindset of knowing what we need to do.

“We found the enjoyment and the way we should perform. We have got top team and top individuals and we should enjoy our football.

“It was a desire to win, to show what we can do, rather than fear. We did it with composure.”

Newcastle’s players screamed for a penalty in the opening minute when the ball struck James McCarthy on the elbow from Mike Williamson’s follow-up shot to Gabriel Obertan’s initial effort.

Having saved Everton early on, McCarthy made a telling contribution at the other end of the pitch, albeit with a slice of fortune.

Martinez’s has acknowledged Everton have been too pedestrian this season, so the speed of the goal will have pleased him.

Jagielka’s searching ball from deep was held up by Lukaku, who shrugged off the attentions of Fabricio Coloccini and teed up McCarthy.

Tim Krul, the Newcastle goalkeeper, misjudged the direction of the Everton midfielder’s low shot and having committed himself to a dive to his right could only helplessly watch it go into the net.

Everton were handed an opportunity to double their lead from the penalty spot 10 minutes after half-time following a mistimed tackle by Yoan Gouffran on Aaron Lennon.

Lukaku, who took the penalty ahead of regular taker Leighton Baines, made no mistake from the spot as he sent Krul the wrong way with a composed low kick into the corner of the net.

The home side’s task in the remainder of the contest was made easier as Newcastle were reduced to 10 men when Fabricio Coloccini was sent off just before the hour for a lunge on Lennon.

“It was reckless and it was high,” Martinez said. “I don’t think that was a turning point, but it helps. Sometimes those moments are important in games.”

Barkley then added a gloss to the result in injury time with a goal on the counter attack when he got on the end of a pass from fellow sub Christian Atsu and rounded Krul before he slipped the ball into the empty net from a tight angle. Despite the loss Newcastle manager John Carver refused to be downbeat and insists he will keep his players motivated in the remaining nine games.

“I can’t walk round as miserable as sin because I’m the leader of the group,” Carver said. “They haven’t thrown the towel and are having a go. Sometimes your best isn’t good enough.

“I am not Harry Houdini and I can’t magic something up. But I’ll give the situation everything and work with everything I’ve got and the majority of the fans understand that.

“We had a few composed words in the dressing room after, not throwing cups around, sensible conversations. I’m not a dictator. I’m open minded and listen to what people have to say.”

EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard 7; Coleman 5, Jagielka 7, Alcaraz 5, Baines 6; McCarthy 8 (Besic 86; 6), Gibson 6; Lennon 7 (Atsu 85; 6), Kone 7, Osman 7; Lukaku 7 (Barkley 73; 7).

Subs not used: Robles, Stones, Garbutt, Naismith,

NEWCASTLE (4-2-3-1): Krul 5; Janmaat 6, Coloccini 5, Williamson 6, Taylor 7; Colback 6, Sissoko 7; Obertan 5 (Perez 45, 5), Gouffran 5, Ameobi 6 (Cabella 58; 6); Riviere 5 (Gutierrez 62; 6).

Subs not used: Elliot, Satka, Anita, Armstrong.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

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