Newcastle United 0-1 Everton: Cleverley steals win at the absolute death

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Tom Cleverley‘s final-second header put Newcastle United back in the drop zone, as Everton defied its second-half performance with a 1-0 win at St. James Park on Saturday.

The scoreline didn’t tell the tale of a hard-nosed match with plenty of chances on Boxing Day at St. James Park.

The Toffees sit 9th with 26 points, while Newcastle drops into 18th. They are two goals behind Norwich on goal differential despite beating the Canaries 6-2.

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The game was a trading of saves from Rob Elliot and Tim Howard, though only the former would be beaten by the final whistle.

Leighton Baines skied an early free kick over the bar as the visitors started on the front foot. Then Magpies keeper Rob Elliot was well-positioned to stop a Kevin Mirallas chance.

Despite Everton’s control of the match, Newcastle almost broke through a trademark Daryl Janmaat‘s cross was headed wide by Aleksandar Mitrovic in the 25th minute.

As the half wore on, the home side began to assert itself, and Mitrovic was a major thorn in Everton’s side. Ayoze Perez and Giorginio Wijnaldum were among the Magpies who could’ve made it 1-0, but Tim Howard and poor aim took their toll.

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The Magpies turned it up for the start of the second half, too, winning corner kicks and taking chances. Howard had command of his 18, though.

Elliot made a key save when Ross Barkley put Romelu Lukaku through 1v1, flashing his right leg to deflect the ball away. Then Aaron Lennon belted a low shot through the Newcastle defense that Elliot saved well.

Newcastle faced some heady moments in their own end before Perez came close at the other, cutting to the middle of the pitch before hitting a low worm-burner wide of the near post.

Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko‘s link-up nearly led to a powerful headed goal for Mitrovic, but the ex-Anderlecht man nodded it past the post.

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Howard made an incredible save on a far-post header from Wijnaldum, and the Magpies looked ready to find something at home.

during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St James' Park on December 26, 2015 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
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But the Toffees’ counter led to a corner, and Funes Mori got free of Sissoko to head a powerful ball at Elliot, who saved it. Lukaku popped the rebound over the bar.

Seamus Coleman then earned a great chance, but ripped a left-footer wide of the goal.

The physical affair took its toll on referee Lee Mason, who may’ve been unpredictable with his discipline but handed out plenty of yellows to go with oft-whistled fouls.

Though the Magpies looked the danger to win it late, Everton sprung a frightening counter that looked set to see Lukaku keep his goal-scoring streak alive, but Chancel Mbemba made the right tackle at the right time.

With Newcastle piling on late pressure, though, Elliot mistimed his punch over Mitrovic, and Cleverely lofted the rebound into the yawning Magpies’ goal. 1-0. Game over.