ON-LOAN Everton striker Romelu Lukaku marked his home debut in emphatic style with two goals in a deserved 3-2 victory over Newcastle which ended up being far more nervy than it should have been.
Everton: Lukaku (5, 37), Barkley (25)
Newcastle Utd: Cabaye (51), Remy (89)
Referee: P Dowd
The Belgium international’s performance was one, but not the only, reason why his new team displaced parent club Chelsea in fourth place as the Toffees made it six matches unbeaten – a league start not matched for seven years.
Lukaku has now scored six goals in his last five Barclays Premier League appearances, having netted a hat-trick in his final match on loan at West Brom last season. That statistic alone, even before taking into account this performance in which he also had the ball in the net two other occasions in the first half but was denied by an offside flag – will prompt more awkward questions of Jose Mourinho’s judgement in allow the 20-year-old to spend another season away from Stamford Bridge.
The fact he has scored more league goals (three) this campaign than all the strikers the Portuguese has at his disposal looks like another glaring error by the two-time Champions League-winning manager.
Lukaku’s fledging partnership with Ross Barkley, playing behind in the hole, also resulted in Everton’s other goal as the 19-year-old collected a lay-off from the Belgian to score Everton’s second after charging through the middle of an obliging Magpies defence. Everton’s pace and passing was fast and crisp and Kevin Mirallas often, and right-back Seamus Coleman slightly less frequently, tore the left side of the visiting team to shreds. But Newcastle, who have won one of their last 11 league trips to Goodison Park and have taken just 16 points from their last 23 away games, were woeful in the first half. Captain Fabricio Coloccini and centre-back partner Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa were abject at best and it was no surprise to see the latter replaced by Mike Williamson at half-time.
However, it was fellow substitute Yohan Cabaye, a surprise omission from the starting line-up, who made Newcastle’s only real impact with a brilliant 30-yard strike just after the interval.
But even conceding their first goal in 11 hours 27 minutes could not knock Everton out of their stride and Loic Remy’s 89th minute goal gave the scoreline a lop-sided look.
“The first-half performance was so dominant, but you can drop your tempo a bit, and once Newcastle scored the first goal you can lose momentum and take risks,” said Everton manager Roberto Martinez. “I was pleased as we controlled the game well enough .We can learn from it.
“He (Lukaku) is strong and powerful, but for a number nine to have that awareness around him – technically he is gifted.
“At times he was unplayable and that that means he opened spaces for others. We need to get to know him. In the second half against West Ham he showed what he could do and tonight he looked at home.”
Martinez was also impressed by the continued form shown by teenager Barkley. “It’s hard to explain how much he’s growing game by game,” the Spaniard said. “In pre-season he impressed and from that onwards he is getting better. “He’s a unique talent for an English boy. He has developed a good relationship with Romelu straight away.”
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Osman, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Heitinga, Jelavic, Kone, Deulofeu, Naismith, Stones.
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa, Coloccini, Santon, Tiote, Anita, Ben Arfa, Sissoko, Gouffran, Remy. Subs: Cabaye, Williamson, Cisse, Elliot, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Dummett.