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.
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.”
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.
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.