MATCH REPORTS

Everton 0 Newcastle United 1

Hatem Ben Arfa scores against Everton

By Dan King

A moment of magic from Hatem Ben Arfa on his full debut gave Newcastle an unexpected, but fully-deserved, victory over Everton at Goodison Park.

The French international, making his first start for Chris Hughton's side, picked up the ball 30 yards from goal, apparently with nothing on, before suddenly checking back inside and letting fly with a rocket shot which arrowed into the top corner.

The only dampener on what was a wonderful afternoon in Merseyside for The Magpies was an injury to Steve Harper in the first-half, with the goalkeeper sustaining shoulder ligament damage and needing to stretchered off following a challenge from former United target Jermaine Beckford. He now faces several weeks on the sidelines.

But his young deputy Tim Krul shone in what was his top flight debut, pulling off a string of saves - while Newcastle should have had a more comfortable final few minutes had referee Andre Marriner not failed to award a penalty for a blatant foul on Kevin Nolan.

Ben Arfa and fellow new signing Cheick Tiote were the two changes from the side which lost to Blackpool last weekend, with Jonas Gutierrez and Alan Smith making way.

And despite Everton forcing the play early on, it was the visitors who had the first real chance of the game - but unfortunately Jose Enrique's cross following a delightful Ben Arfa flick was met by the smallest man on the field, Wayne Routledge, who headed over the bar.

Then Tiote began to take control of the game, twice bursting from his deep-lying midfield role with lung-busting runs to start attacks - the second of which resulted in a 25 yard strike from the Ivorian which Tim Howard did well to hold onto. Howard also did well to save a free-kick from Joey Barton as United began to find their feet.

But their momentum was rocked when, with just over half an hour played, Beckford went in hard for a ball that he had little hope of getting, leading to Harper falling awkwardly and having to be stretchered off. Former Leeds striker Beckford was booked while Harper was taken to hospital, but was able to fly back with the team after the game following a scan.

And his replacement Krul was quickly called into action, saving smartly from Leon Osman, who had broken down United's left, then expertly parrying Johnny Heitinger's downward header - although the Dutchman had been flagged offside.

But, just on the stroke of half-time, Newcastle did to Everton what Blackpool had done to them seven days earlier - by taking the lead at the end of the first-half - and it was a truly stunning strike from Ben Arfa, who had already showed a tantalising glimpse of his ability by beating three men with one run before slipping in Kevin Nolan, who was narrowly adjudged to be offside.

At the interval, David Moyes replaced the disappointing Beckford with Nigerian striker Yakubu and right-back Tony Hibbert with Seamus Coleman, and his side piled on the pressure at the beginning of the second half.

Krul made another great save, spreading himself to deny Yakubu from six yards out, but for the most part the young Dutchman was superbly protected by United's rearguard, superbly marshalled by Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini.

James Perch made a vital interception to deny Mikel Arteta, who was steaming in at the far post, but the right-back then picked up his fifth yellow card in five games - meaning an automatic one-game suspension for the former Nottingham Forest man.

But after riding out the storm, Newcastle began to look ever more threatening on the break - and on one such occasion, should surely have had a penalty when Everton fan Joey Barton threaded the ball through to fellow Scouser Nolan, who was brought down by Coleman as he cocked his leg to shoot - only for Mariner to somehow wave play on.

It could have been costly for United, as Everton once again upped the tempo in the closing stages. Marouane Fellaini fired over after good closing down from Nolan and then, in the last seconds of four minutes of stoppage time, Yakubu shot from 12 yards only to see the ball bounce off the inside of the post and into the grateful arms of Krul, who was lying on the ground.

A stroke of luck for United, with the whistle blowing just afterwards - but it was nothing less than The Magpies deserved for a fine, battling awayday performance.

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