Newcastle 1 Everton FC 2 - brilliant Leighton Baines inspires latest come from behind win

03 January 2013 07:30
What price Leighton Baines? £15m scream some ludicrous reports – a  fabrication which is wide of the mark on a couple of accounts.

Firstly because that would just be  enough in theory to buy his right  foot. Secondly, because Everton FC wouldn’t put a price on him – he’s  simply too important. The left-back scored the stunning  free-kick which got them back into  the game against Newcastle last  night, then formed part of a  rearguard which snuffed out the  hosts’ later efforts to salvage  something. And his contribution could be  priceless in the end, as resilient  Everton recorded an impressive win  to move right back into the mix for  Champions League qualification. In the process David Moyes’ men  became Premier League history  makers.

They’re now the first team to both  score and concede in 16 consecutive  games, yet they’ve lost just twice in  that milestone sequence. Their  ability to keep clean sheets may  remain a distant memory, but  Everton’s overall capacity to shrug  off setbacks and put points on the  board remains their calling card this term. It was a triumphant finale with a  disastrous start. Newcastle’s  tendency to hit long balls should  have been no surprise, but Everton  failed spectacularly to deal with  their first one after just 65 seconds. 

Goalkeeper Tim Krul aimed a long  punt forward, and when John  Heitinga mis-timed his jump to  deliver a clearing header, the ball  bounced and Papiss Cisse was  unmarked and able to loop a simple  header over Tim Howard. The early advantage electrified  the hosts and they began to peg the  visitors back with a string of attacks,  which required some last-ditch  defending around Everton’s six-yard  box. Yet they might have quickly hit  back when Baines, who passed a late  fitness test alongside Steven Pienaar,  forced Krul into an excellent diving  save with a central free-kick from 20  yards. Better was to follow from  him.

The Blues began to assert their  greater ability on the ball, mounting  a further series of probing attacks as  Leon Osman and Pienaar took up  dangerous positions in the final  third, but ref Martin Atkinson was  affording Everton little protection  from a series of fouls. Despite that it was Newcastle who  almost doubled their lead on half an  hour when Phil Jagielka conceded a  free-kick with a clumsy challenge on  Gabriel Obertan, and from Vurnon  Anita’s delivery, James Perch got  above Heitinga and flicked a header  onto the post. If the Newcastle  defender was unfortunate then, he  got lucky moments later when he  clipped Pienaar as the midfielder  raced into the penalty area but the  South African stayed on his feet and  Krul sprinted from his line to save  with his legs. But Everton were not to be denied. 

With half-time approaching,  Marouane Fellaini – back causing  havoc for opponents after his  suspension, won a free-kick from  Fabricio Coloccini and Baines stood  over the ball from 35 yards. Most  perhaps expected the England  defender to cross, but instead he  unleashed an unstoppable pile driver  which almost obliterated the back of  the net.

If a more sweetly struck  set-piece is dispatched during  this campaign it will surely be  goal of the season.

Source: liverpool_echo