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Asmir Begovic was Everton’s unlikely hero on Thursday

Everton’s 1-0 victory at home against Newcastle could turn out to be season-defining, with the Toffees now moving three points clear of 18th-placed Watford with two games in hand, and four points clear of Burnley in 19th in the Premier League table.

The Goodison Park crowd erupted after a 99th-minute goal from Alex Iwobi shattered the visitors’ hearts, and the Magpies will rue not taking full advantage of their extra man after Toffees midfielder Allan was sent off for a cynical challenge on Allan Saint-Maximin.

Was Asmir Begovic man-of-the-match against Newcastle?

Yes, they wouldn't have won without him!

Yes, they wouldn't have won without him!

No, there were more important performances!

No, there were more important performances!

Everton boss Frank Lampard confessed after the match: “I’ve broken my hand by the way in the celebrations. I’ll take it for three points! It was in the celebrations for the goal. I didn’t realise at the time, but as the game carried on it was a bit sore there. It’s a bit shaky but it’s fine. I don’t care.

“It was an amazing night. It’s important that we put perspective on it, because we need those nights and there’s a long way to go.

“We must enjoy them and we must realise what got us that win. It was spirit, it was togetherness. I spoke to the players in the week and a lot of them stood up tonight.”

However, Iwobi wasn’t the star man on the pitch, as 34-year-old Asmir Begovic – standing in for virus-hit Jordan Pickford, earned the highest match rating by far (8.4) from SofaScore.

With the Magpies dominating possession and having the majority of the chances, the Bosnia-Herzegovina goalkeeper was called upon to make six vital saves, including four from within the 18-yard box, on his way to keeping his first Premier League clean sheet since Bournemouth’s 2-0 win over Brighton back in December 2018.

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The former Chelsea and AC Milan shot-stopper also won all three of his aerial duels and completed eight long balls forward, one punch, one run-out and two clearances to relieve the tiring Toffees defence. The only thing he failed to stop was a protestor who cable-tied himself to Begovic’s goalpost.

Should he be called upon by Lampard again for Everton’s visit to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup quarter-Finals this weekend if Pickford is still unavailable, the 34-year-old will be heading into the game on a high as he seeks a third successive clean sheet in all competitions.

He has had to be patient for opportunities this season, but Begovic – who was hailed as “the ultimate professional” by his former Cherries boss Eddie Howe, ironically now in charge of Newcastle – literally saved his team on numerous occasions last night, coming good when he was very much needed.

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Article title: Asmir Begovic was Everton’s unlikely hero on Thursday

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