Lukaku scores twice and assists Ross Barkley for the other
Less than 18 months ago, Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew declared his team were operating in a different league to Everton FC .
On Monday night, however, the Goodison outfit were on another planet for 45 minutes.
“Are you watching David Moyes?” was the cry from the Gwladys Street End as his former club tore Newcastle apart during a mesmerising first half.
It was enough to catapult Roberto Martinez’s side into a Champions League qualification berth, extend the Spaniard’s record-breaking start to his Goodison reign and earn Everton their best start to a Premier League campaign in seven years.
Moyes, five points and eight places adrift with Manchester United, was surely an intrigued observer.
So too Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese has been questioned for his decision to allow Romelu Lukaku out on loan on transfer deadline day last month.
Chelsea’s loss, though, is most definitely Everton’s gain given the early evidence.
Having come off the bench to net the winner at West Ham United last week, Lukaku marked his first Goodison start by scoring twice to send Martinez’s men on their way to a victory more emphatic than the 3-2 scoreline suggests.
Newcastle simply had no answer to the first-half display of the Belgian, who now has six goals in his last five Premier League matches.
Lukaku wasn’t alone during a fantastic opening period from Everton, albeit aided by some chronic defending from the top-flight’s leakiest defence.
A memorable evening, also, for Ross Barkley, the teenager notching his first goal at Goodison with a fine finish. As with Lukaku, it will almost certainly be the first of many.
It wasn’t perfect, however. Substitute Yohan Cabaye’s fantastic strike shortly after the interval was the first goal Everton had conceded at Goodison in the Premier League since March, and with the home side slacking off in the final quarter Loic Remy set nerves jangling by bundling home a minute from time.
The Martinez masterplan continues to take shape. With Lukaku aged 20, Barkley 19 and Premier League full debutant James McCarthy 22, the addition of youth to Moyes’s legacy has injected fresh energy and pace into a seasoned outfit.
A big test will come with the trip to Manchester City on Saturday – not least with Gareth Barry ineligible – but the Etihad has been a venue of choice for some time.
Steven Naismith’s reward for two goals in his last three games was to be dropped to the bench as McCarthy and Lukaku came in for their first Premier League starts for the club.
Nikica Jelavic was the other man to give way, the Croatian paying the price for his ongoing indifferent form that had seen him net just twice in the calendar year.
Barry, one of eight players rotated out of the side for last Tuesday’s Capital One Cup defeat at Fulham, returned for the 500th Premier League appearance of his career, only the 10th player to reach such a landmark and the youngest.
Newcastle manager Pardew raised eyebrows by leaving Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye out of a team that once again contained no Englishmen.
And they were put to the sword during an invigorating opening 45 minutes from Martinez’s men.
Lukaku took only five minutes to justify his inclusion with a goal that admittedly owed much to Newcastle’s poor defending.
With the visitors failing to clear a long punt by Tim Howard, Kevin Mirallas burst down the right flank and crossed into the box where Lukaku had easily lost the attentions of the dozing Fabricio Coloccini and struck a first-time shot that went straight through Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul.
The burly Belgian had already seen an effort disallowed as Martinez’s men sprung out of the blocks with real intent.
Ross Barkley smashed an angled drive narrowly wide from 20 yards with his right foot as Everton sought to capitalise on shaky Newcastle defending.
Such a failing was evident once more when McCarthy pressed Cheick Tiote into coughing up possession and struck a shot that was too hot for Krul to handle, Newcastle eventually scrambling the ball to safety.
But the Magpies were again architects of their own downfall for Everton’s second goal on 25 minutes.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s pass was easily cut out by Sylvain Distin, and after possession was fed through Mirallas to Lukaku, the striker played in Barkley down the centre with the midfielder finishing clinically into the bottom corner.
Newcastle were at it again on 37 minutes for Everton’s third. From another straightforward lengthy clearance by Tim Howard, Lukaku wandered away from Yanga-Mbiwa and, after the ball floated over the head of the spooked Coloccini, the striker evaded Krul’s bizarre attempt to clear, regained possession and tapped into the unguarded net.
All too easy. Everton’s vibrant attacking play meant they didn’t need any help, and will argue Newcastle were almost frightened into submission.
The visitors needed to respond, and moments into the second half Yoan Gouffran struck the inside of the post after being released by Vurnon Anita.
And Cabaye, on for Hatem Ben Arfa, pulled a goal back on 51 minutes with a stupendous swerving strike from 25 yards that gave Howard no chance.
There was an unnecessarily nervy finale for Everton when Remy capitalised on indecision between Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka to prod home in the 89th minute.
Remy then shot over during injury time, but that fantastic first half proved enough for Martinez and his players.
MAN OF THE MATCH. Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian blew Newcastle’s defence away with two goals in a dominant first-half display
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Barry, McCarthy; Mirallas (Deulofeu 73), Barkley (Naismith 88), Osman (Stones 90); Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Heitinga, Jelavic, Kone. BOOKINGS: Baines, Mirallas and Barry (all fouls).
NEWCASTLE UNITED (4-2-3-1): Krul; Debuchy, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa (Williamson 46), Santon; Anita (Cisse 69), Tiote; Gouffran, Sissoko, Ben Arfa (Cabaye 46); Remy. Subs: Elliot, Obertan, Ameobi, Dummett.
REFEREE: Phil Dowd.