Florian Lejeune’s dramatic stoppage-time double sees Newcastle peg back Everton
Everton 2-2 Newcastle: There were just 102 seconds between the centre-back’s goals
Carlo Ancelotti’s face graced a new banner in the Gwladys Street end, Moise Kean finally got off the mark for Everton and Dominic Calvert-Lewin took his goal tally in the Premier League to double digits, but somehow it was Newcastle United‘s supporters who were in song come the final whistle.
Against all logic and the state of the encounter, Florian Lejeune struck twice in the final 120 seconds – the first an overhead kick – to land a sucker punch and secure an unlikely point for the injury-ravaged visitors.
Just how it happened is still a conundrum, with Ancelotti’s side so commanding and comfortable. They had reduced Newcastle’s players to training cones for much of the second half, relentlessly motioning past them in waves of attacking blurs.
Everton conjured chance after chance, wasted chance after chance and then watched stunned at the death. An easy win turned ‘are you kidding?’ draw in an instant.
"We were second best for large parts," Newcastle manager Steve Bruce conceded. "We suffered. I'm asking people to play out of position, but they've stuck at it.
"The players didn't give up and somehow got their reward."
Ancelotti was measured in his analysis despite the mania of the closing minutes. "I think there are things in football that are unpredictable," he said.
"From the first goal no-one could think they could draw the game and me too. We played well but you have to accept the result because sometimes in football things happen that you cannot control."
The first 10 minutes of the match was flooded with overhit passes, wrong decisions, too many touches or no-one getting a touch, as was the case when Theo Walcott delivered a dangerous ball into the box that evaded Kean and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Everton were superior in the first 45 as the visitors offered no bite in the final third. Djibril Sidibe drilled a powerful shot from the edge of the box that Martin Dubravka was equal to, before Kean broke through the centre of the park, shooting early and low with Newcastle’s goalkeeper palming it out for a corner.
The 19-year-old did eventually and finally get off the mark for Everton on his 22nd appearance. Bernard’s lofted ball was controlled by the forward, who made a clever run on the half-hour mark. His first touch didn’t help, but he recovered to smash it under Dubravka.
The hosts only elevated their intensity and attacking intention after the interval and Calvert-Lewin translated that on the scoreboard. He dispatched Lucas Digne’s through-ball into the far corner to become the first Englishman to score 10 goals in a Premier League season for Everton since Wayne Rooney in 2017-18.
Ancelotti’s men kept pouring forward, but without the all-important finish. Their wastefulness didn’t seem to matter with Newcastle offering absolutely nothing in attack.
That is until they finally did. With 94 minutes played, Jordan Pickford flapped at a corner, which ended with Lejeune acrobatically kicking it in.
And with the final whistle approaching, the Frenchman forced the ball over the line after a massive scramble.
"It is true we could have stayed more focused on set-pieces and it's true we could have been more focused in the last minutes," Ancelotti said.
"But I think the team played a fantastic game for all 90 minutes. We are disappointed, but on the other side were are really pleased with the performance.
"The players are really sad, but I said to them I lost the final of the Champions League winning 3-0 so it can happen sometimes."