By Damian Spellman, PA
Miguel Almiron’s fifth goal of the season handed in-form Newcastle a third Premier League win in four games as they ground their way to a 1-0 victory over Everton.
The Paraguay international’s class 31st-minute finish was enough to clinch the three points on a night when Eddie Howe’s side were not at their best and had to survive a second-half fightback by the Toffees to extend their unbeaten run to six matches.
Everton, for whom striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin played 73 minutes in his first start of the season, were decidedly second-best before the break and perhaps fortunate to be just a single goal behind.
They improved markedly as the Magpies tired but without ever troubling goalkeeper Nick Pope and slipped to a third successive defeat as a result.
Former Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford was afforded his customary welcome to Tyneside as he fielded a series of harmless early balls and cleared his lines, and he was able to watch Bruno Guimaraes’ speculative sixth-minute shot fly high over his crossbar.
Calvert-Lewin, however, enjoyed a less comfortable opening, losing possession to Sven Botman early on before picking up a booking for a foul on Guimaraes.
Pickford was more concerned by Jacob Murphy’s dipping eighth-minute strike, although the Magpies’ efforts to impose themselves were repeatedly scuppered by a lack of precision in their passing.
Kieran Trippier and Guimaraes worked a neat free-kick move to present Callum Wilson with a half-chance, but his 16th-minute header failed to trouble Pickford.
Calvert-Lewin mustered Everton’s first attempt at goal with a header from Demarai Gray’s 26th-minute corner, but cleared the crossbar by some distance, and Seamus Coleman had to hack away Wilson’s cross with Murphy waiting to pounce two minutes later.
The home side took the lead 14 minutes before the break when, after Murphy had headed Trippier’s ball back across goal, it was fed out to Guimaraes, whose pass was perfectly-weighted for Almiron to clip a superb shot over the helpless Pickford and inside the far post.
Newcastle might have increased their lead significantly as they took the game by the scruff of the neck, Guimaraes twice shooting just wide either side of Pickford’s save from Fabian Schar’s bullet header before Dan Burn only just cleared the target.
The first half drew do a close in acrimonious fashion after Anthony Gordon, on his return from suspension, went to ground under Burn’s challenge with both the midfielder and Schar booked for their part in the melee which ensued.
A rare error from Trippier allowed Gray to race clear down the Everton left three minutes after the restart, only for the midfielder to drag his cross behind the blue shirts arriving in the middle to let the Magpies off the hook.
Almiron whistled a 55th-minute attempt just high and wide, but the visitors were enjoying their best spell of the game with Idrissa Gueye and Amadou Onana belatedly bringing their influence to bear.
Substitute Joe Willock glanced a 77th-minute Trippier free-kick past the far post and then headed over with four minutes remaining, and there was no way back for the visitors.