VICTOR ANICHEBE fired Everton back into the Premier League’s European challenging spots with his first touch of the ball at St James Park.
But it was an utterly magnificent Leighton Baines free-kick which set the platform for a deserved 2-1 victory.
The England full-back added to his already glowing reputation with a thunderous 30-yard set-piece just as Everton looked set to go in at the interval trailing to Papiss Cisse’s 75-second strike.
Baines stepped up after Fabricio Coloccini had been penalised for a challenge on Marouane Fellaini and unleashed one of the contenders for Goal of the Season.
It lifted Everton up into fifth place in the table, and quickly erased the memory of Sunday’s cruel defeat to Chelsea.
Anichebe struck seconds after coming on as a substitute for Steven Naismith, rapping in from six yards after Nikica Jelavic had crossed devastatingly from the left.
But it was Baines’ wonder-strike which will live long in the memory.
It helped secure victory without Darron Gibson, Kevin Mirallas, Seamus Coleman and Tony Hibbert.
But Marouane Fellaini returned after suspension to produce another influential display, while Phil Neville turned in a captain’s performance – at one stage dripping with blood from a head wound.
And as they have done so many times this season Everton came from behind to triumph.
Newcastle unearthed an Achilles heel in Everton’s defensive armoury at Goodison Park back in September when two long balls down a marshmallow soft centre claimed a scarcely deserved draw.
It took just 75 seconds for the same tactic to bear fruit last night.
The assist came from Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul who did nothing more sophisticated than lump a long ball down the centre of the pitch.
Johnny Heitinga leaped but mistimed his jump horribly and the ball bounced once before dropping neatly onto the unmarked Papiss Cisse’s head. He looped a neat finish over the stranded Tim Howard for a shock opener.
After being credited as a goal-maker, Krul turned goal denier four minutes later.
Steven Pienaar was tripped on the edge of the Newcastle penalty area to give Leighton Baines a free-kick opportunity from the kind of range he craves.
Baines’ execution was excellent, curving the ball around the defensive wall and into the corner of the target, but Krul launched himself to his left to fingertip the ball to safety.
Everton recovered well from their early setback, without ever looking completely secure at the back.
A wonderfully incisive move started by Jelavic and carried on by Fellaini saw Pienaar given possession in a threatening position on the left. He threaded a pass back into the centre to meet the inrushing run of Fellaini but the big Belgian’s shot was blocked.
The delicate balance of the match was underlined in the 31st minute.
First James Perch soared over Heitinga again, this time to meet Vurnon Anita’s whipped in free-kick, but his powerful header bounced back into play off Tim Howard’s left hand post.