'We're still in a relegation battle for sure' - The key quotes from Eddie Howe after 10-man Everton stun Newcastle United
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Eddie Howe, Manager of Newcastle United applauds fans following their sides defeat after the Premier League match between Everton and Newcastle United at Goodison Park on March 17, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe admits his side “didn’t move the ball quick enough” and made “too many technical mistakes”, when they had the numerical advantage in their 1-0 defeat to 10-man Everton at Goodison Park

In what was arguably The Toffees’ biggest game of the season so far, the match was halted for ten minutes after a strange incident early in the second half when a protester tied himself to a goalpost at the Gwladys Street End with a cable tie around his neck and had to be freed by stewards using bolt-cutters. 

More drama followed in the 83rd minute when Allan was shown a controversial red card by referee Craig Pawson for a foul on Magpie substitute Allan Saint-Maximin after an initial booking was overturned following a pitchside monitor review. 

But, in the ninth minute of additional time, Frank Lampard’s men didn’t let the long delay or red card faze them at a raucous Goodison Park as Alex Iwobi’s last-gasp winner sparked joyous celebrations to move The Toffees three points above the relegation zone. 

Newcastle remain in 14th in the Premier League after a second successive defeat and will be well aware there’s still work to do in their final nine matches to stay well clear of the bottom three. 

Howe spoke to NUFC TV and reflected on a frustrating evening on Merseyside

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  • “First half I thought it was a really tough examination of us and I thought we came through with flying colours.” 

Newcastle looked to bounce back from their controversial late defeat at Chelsea and were the better side in the first half controlling the possession and posing a threat in the final third against an out-of-form Everton, who appeared to be devoid of any ideas. 

After he scored his first goal for the black-and-whites in the 2-1 win at Southampton, Chris Wood came close on two occasions in sending the visitors in front. The New Zealand international’s first chance was a soft header straight into the gloves of Asmir Begovic, who replaced Jordan Pickford due to illness, and his other effort flew over the crossbar from Matt Targett’s in-swinging corner. 

The only thing The Magpies missed during the opening 45 minutes was a goal and the lack of cutting edge ultimately proved to be their own downfall. 

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  • “Second half, I thought we weren’t the same team, we fell off the levels we have been.”

It was very much a tale of two halves for Newcastle.

While Howe’s side were on top in the first half, they lost all of their momentum in a stop-start second period and the ten-minute delay because of the protest actually worked in Everton’s favour, who grew in confidence towards the latter stages of the contest as they were roared on by an electric atmosphere. 

Yet, when Allan was sent off, The Toffees would have feared the worst, but Newcastle never discovered their rhythm and never looked like bringing all three points back to the North East, and to their credit, Everton dug deep in the 14 minutes of stoppage-time and punished The Magpies’ lapse of concentration when Saint-Maximin cheaply lost the ball which led to Iwobi’s dramatic 99th-minute winner. 

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  • “It certainly wasn’t our best performance.”

In the reverse fixture at St James’ Park 37 days ago when The Magpies came from behind and recorded a 3-1 victory, it was a performance to be proud of and it lifted Newcastle out of the relegation zone and they’ve not been back in it since. 

But this defeat on Merseyside is a wake up call that, despite being nine points clear of 18th place Watford, they are by no means safe and secure yet, while the result will have given everyone at Everton a major boost and they will now need to use this win as a turning point if they are to stay up.

It was Newcastle’s fourth league match in 12 days, with three of those being played away from home and Howe admitted that he didn’t think his players were experiencing any “physical fatigue” but that there was possibly some “mental fatigue” among his squad as they didn’t make “good football decisions.”

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  • “We know we have to get points.”

The Magpies will be pleased to see that four of their next six league fixtures are on Tyneside in which they’ll be hoping to have confirmed their top-flight status by the end of April, although they'll all be stern tests for Howe’s men against formidable opposition. 

Due to the upcoming international break, their next match is a trip to north London to take on Tottenham Hotspur on April 3, before three home matches in succession against Wolves, Leicester City and Crystal Palace are followed by a trip to Norwich and they then finish the month against title-chasing Liverpool

Howe said: “We're still in a relegation battle for sure and there’s been no other thought in our head. We know we have to come to some tough grounds, there's some tough fixtures to come and we know we have to get points so that’s a huge disappointment for us because that was a huge opportunity tonight.”

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  • “Players just need a mental and physical rest.” 

The international break has come at the right time for the Newcastle players to recharge their batteries before they conclude the 2021/22 Premier League season. 

They head off to Dubai on Friday for another warm weather training camp after their previous one in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in January turned out to be a major success as The Magpies went on a nine-match unbeaten run. 

Newcastle will be keen to move on from their two consecutive defeats and replicate the same form they showed in early February when they return to the UK with the goal of securing safety sooner rather than later.