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Rooney haunts Magpies as Big Sam's Everton revival continues and Leicester put four past Southampton

Everton claimed a narrow win at Newcastle United tonight.

WAYNE ROONEY IMPROVED his excellent record against Newcastle United and stretched the Magpies’ miserable run of Premier League form by netting the winner in a 1-0 victory at St James’ Park.

rooney-cropped_4jgzu75fzam6144wovzbd9sxb Wayne Rooney celebrates his goal at Newcastle

With Amanda Staveley’s firm PCP Partners reported to be close to agreeing a takeover deal with controversial Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, the home fans on Tyneside could be forgiven for feeling upbeat despite their side’s worrying slide down the table.

But such positivity will have dissipated when Rooney, having scored the equaliser from the spot in the Merseyside derby on Sunday, pounced on a goalkeeping blunder by Karl Darlow to score what proved the decisive goal in the 27th minute.

It marked Rooney’s 15th goal against Newcastle in the Premier League, the most he has scored against any top-flight club, but the hosts may have felt it was somewhat undeserved.

The goal came either side of Matt Ritchie and Mikel Merino striking the woodwork but Newcastle’s general control of proceedings faded in the second half, with Everton comfortable in seeing out a third win in four games under Sam Allardyce.

Newcastle United v Everton - Premier League - St James' Park Another good night's work for Sam Allardyce. Source: Owen Humphreys

By contrast Newcastle – who finished the game with 10 men as Jonjo Shelvey was sent off in stoppage time - have now lost seven of their last eight and are just a solitary point above the relegation zone with a trip to Arsenal on the horizon this weekend.

Newcastle had far the better of the opening exchanges as Everton, in typical Allardyce fashion, appeared content to sit back and soak up pressure.

Only the woodwork prevented Ritchie from getting the goal his efforts perhaps deserved, rattling the post with a piledriver of an effort after Dwight Gayle had done well to divert Shelvey’s long ball into this path.

And his and Newcastle’s anguish was exacerbated moments later as Darlow failed to handle Aaron Lennon’s header from Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s cross and Rooney scrambled home from point-blank range.

The woodwork then again frustrated Newcastle, with Merino the next to be thwarted by the frame of the goal as his fierce long-range effort clattered against the inside of the right-hand post.

Newcastle continued in the ascendancy after the interval and Merino was to the fore as they went close once more. The Spaniard’s shot from outside of the area looped into the air courtesy of a block but Mohamed Diame could not get a touch to turn in at the far post after Florian Lejuene had met the ball with a header across goal.

Newcastle United v Everton - Premier League - St James' Park Jamaal Lascelles in action for Newcastle tonight. Source: Owen Humphreys

However, though Newcastle looked the more likely to score the game’s second goal, there was a noticeable dip in quality in the second half, with both teams struggling to keep possession.

Gylfi Sigurdsson should have punished Newcastle for giving away the ball inside their own half, the Iceland star instead slipping and blazing well over the crossbar.

Darlow somewhat atoned for his earlier error by turning an Ashley Williams header behind and that proved the last clear-cut chance of a contest that will only heighten Rafael Benitez’s desire to spend in January – regardless of who is in charge in the boardroom.

He must now face the prospect of a game without Shelvey after he saw red for a second bookable offence in the waning moments for a foul on Idrissa Gueye.

Newcastle United v Everton - Premier League - St James' Park Jonjo Shelvey saw red tonight. Source: Owen Humphreys

Meanwhile Claude Puel returned to haunt former club Southampton as Leicester City ran riot to win 4-1 at St Mary’s Stadium.

Goals from a rejuvenated Riyad Mahrez, the tireless Shinji Okazaki and club stalwart Andy King had appeared to put the result beyond doubt before the break, and Okazaki’s second served as a settler after Maya Yoshida pulled one back to briefly threaten a comeback.

Puel was dismissed by Southampton in June despite leading them to the EFL Cup final and eighth place in the table last season.

Southampton v Leicester City - Premier League - St Mary's Stadium A happy return to the south coast for Claude Puel. Source: Adam Davy

The Saints are yet to show signs of improving significantly under successor Mauricio Pellegrino.

But the same cannot be said of Leicester, who have begun to display glimpses of their sensational 2015-16 title-winning form since Puel replaced the sacked Craig Shakespeare in October.

Southampton v Leicester City - Premier League - St Mary's Stadium Shinji Okazaki celebrates scoring his side's fourth goal against Southampton. Source: Adam Davy

The Foxes have now won four league matches in succession and are unbeaten in five, with their only defeats since September coming against heavyweights Liverpool and leaders Manchester City.

The result leaves Leicester eighth, comfortably clear of the relegation threat that prompted them to dispense with Shakespeare’s services, while the Saints are eight points worse off in 11th.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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