Newcastle United 0 Everton 1: Rooney haunts Magpies again

Everton claimed a narrow win at Newcastle United, with Wayne Rooney once again the man to deny the Magpies.

Wayne Rooney improved his excellent record against Newcastle United and stretched the Magpies' miserable run of Premier League form by netting the winner in a 1-0 victory at St James' Park.

With Amanda Staveley's firm PCP Partners reported to be close to agreeing a takeover deal with controversial Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, the home fans on Tyneside could be forgiven for feeling upbeat despite their side's worrying slide down the table.

But such positivity will have dissipated when Rooney, having scored the equaliser from the spot in the Merseyside derby on Sunday, pounced on a goalkeeping blunder by Karl Darlow to score what proved the decisive goal in the 27th minute.

It marked Rooney's 15th goal against Newcastle in the Premier League, the most he has scored against any top-flight club, but the hosts may have felt it was somewhat undeserved.

The goal came either side of Matt Ritchie and Mikel Merino striking the woodwork but Newcastle's general control of proceedings faded in the second half, with Everton comfortable in seeing out a third win in four games under Sam Allardyce.

By contrast Newcastle - who finished the game with 10 men as Jonjo Shelvey was sent off in stoppage time - have now lost seven of their last eight and are just a solitary point above the relegation zone with a trip to Arsenal on the horizon this weekend.

Newcastle had far the better of the opening exchanges as Everton, in typical Allardyce fashion, appeared content to sit back and soak up pressure.

But a deflected Ritchie free-kick wide and a drive straight at Jordan Pickford from the Scotland winger was the scant fruit of Newcastle's early labours. 

Only the woodwork prevented Ritchie from getting the goal his efforts perhaps deserved, rattling the post with a piledriver of an effort after Dwight Gayle had done well to divert Shelvey's long ball into this path.

And his and Newcastle's anguish was exacerbated moments later as Darlow failed to handle Aaron Lennon's header from Dominic Calvert-Lewin's cross and Rooney scrambled home from point-blank range.

The woodwork then again frustrated Newcastle, with Merino the next to be thwarted by the frame of the goal as his fierce long-range effort clattered against the inside of the right-hand post.

And Christian Atsu's driving run just before the break deserved more as Gayle failed to find a finish to test Pickford from the Ghana international's lay-off.

Newcastle continued in the ascendancy after the interval and Merino was to the fore as they went close once more. The Spaniard's shot from outside of the area looped into the air courtesy of a block but Mohamed Diame could not get a touch to turn in at the far post after Florian Lejuene had met the ball with a header across goal.

However, though Newcastle looked the more likely to score the game's second goal, there was a noticeable dip in quality in the second half, with both teams struggling to keep possession.

Gylfi Sigurdsson should have punished Newcastle for giving away the ball inside their own half, the Iceland star instead slipping and blazing well over the crossbar.

Darlow somewhat atoned for his earlier error by turning an Ashley Williams header behind and that proved the last clear-cut chance of a contest that will only heighten Rafael Benitez's desire to spend in January - regardless of who is in charge in the boardroom.

He must now face the prospect of a game without Shelvey after the midfielder saw red for a second bookable offence in the waning moments for a foul on Idrissa Gueye.

Key Opta Stats:

- Everton have collected 10 points in their last four Premier League games – one more than they managed in their previous 12 combined (9).
- They ended a run of 16 Premier League away games without a win (D8 L8), claiming their first victory since winning 1-0 at Sam Allardyce's Crystal Palace in January.
- Newcastle United have lost four consecutive home league games at St James' Park for the first time since April 2015 under John Carver.
- Wayne Rooney has nine away Premier League goals at Newcastle – only Alan Shearer (who scored 10 away at Leeds United) has scored more away goals versus a single opponent in Premier League history.
- Newcastle have not won any of their last 44 home Premier League games in which they have gone in behind at half-time since winning 3-2 against Reading in December 2006.
- Only one Newcastle player has received more red cards in a single Premier League season than Jonjo Shelvey this season (2) – David Batty in 1997-98 (3).