Everton 2 Newcastle United 2
- Simon Hooper
Florian Lejeune’s incredible stoppage-time brace saw Newcastle United come from two goals down to snatch a point at Everton on Tuesday night.
It was a stunning finale to the game at Goodison Park, which the hosts had dominated after Moise Kean’s opener on the half hour.
When Dominic Calvert-Lewin made it two after the break things looked bleak for Steve Bruce’s side but, in the most dramatic fashion, they mounted a fightback in the game’s dying moments.
In the 94th minute, substitute Lejeune – who only entered the fray with 20 minutes remaining – hooked home an overhead kick from close range to give the visitors faint hope with seconds remaining.
But with the very last kick of the contest, in the 95th minute, they levelled the scores. Lejeune was credited with the goal, though it was an almighty scramble as Jordan Pickford fought in vain to keep out efforts from the Frenchman and Isaac Hayden, with referee Simon Hooper eventually awarding the equaliser and blowing for full time to leave Everton stunned – and United in raptures.
An open 20 minutes on Merseyside brought few chances. Miguel Almirón looked liveliest in attack for Newcastle, and his threaded pass was intercepted just before it reached Sean Longstaff in the box. Theo Walcott, meanwhile, sent over a teasing low cross which somehow evaded both Kean and Calvert-Lewin.
But Martin Dúbravka, who has turned in some stunning displays of late, was the first of the two goalkeepers to be tested. He held onto Djibril Sidibe’s ambitious volley and palmed away Kean’s low drive as Carlo Ancelotti’s men turned up the heat.
On the half hour, United’s Slovakian stopper was beaten, and it looked to have been coming. Bernard was afforded the space to clip a clever pass over the Magpies’ defence and Kean – even after a poor first touch which meant he couldn’t take the ball in his stride – dispatched his shot low underneath Dúbravka to record his first goal for the Toffees.
Bruce’s side were unable to muster a clear-cut opportunity before the break, though Joelinton did nod an Isaac Hayden cross just over, and Everton continued their pressure after the restart. Kean had a sight of goal but couldn’t connect properly as the ball dropped over his shoulder, before some swift passes from the Italian and Walcott set Bernard free. His finish, dinked over Dúbravka, was too high.
Eight minutes into the second half, it was two. It was a simple finish for Calvert-Lewin, arrowed into the far corner after Lucas Digne’s through ball picked him out in the box, but it was a goal United will have felt was preventable.
From there, it was only really the hosts who looked as though they would find the target in the initial 90 minutes. Bernard, who was influential throughout, saw a deflected strike tipped around the post by Dúbravka at full stretch, and Yerry Mina lifted a header just beyond the upright from Walcott’s cross to the far post.
Calvert-Lewin then tried his luck again, finding the base of the post with Dúbravka scrambling to reach it, and Mason Holgate tested the Magpies’ number one from range.
But somehow, Newcastle battled back. Substitute Lejeune hooked home acrobatically deep into stoppage time, with his muted celebration suggesting that even he felt it could be his team’s only moment of cheer.
But seconds later, after Matt Ritchie floated a free kick into the Toffees box, the unthinkable happened. Lejeune and Hayden both stabbed the ball goalwards, Pickford and the Everton defence couldn’t quite make a clearance and Hooper’s whistle heralded euphoric scenes among the travelling supporters as Newcastle’s late heroics earned them the most unlikely of points.