Everton 0-2 Newcastle
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce said a pressure-relieving win over Everton came from a “braver” approach crowned by Callum Wilson’s double.
Bruce has endured intense criticism from Newcastle’s fan base as his team lost their past five Premier League games to slip towards the relegation zone.
But after switching to a 4-4-2 diamond formation they secured their first win in 12 games, with Wilson’s 50th and 51st Premier League goals helping to beat a passive Everton.
Wilson, who went close either side of the break, ended a seven-game goal drought by heading in Jonjo Shelvey’s corner before adding a second in stoppage time.
Bruce was understandably delighted at the final whistle as his team moved nine points clear of the relegation zone.
“There’s no disputing it – it’s been very difficult,” he said.
“When you’re on a bad run in the Premier League it’s difficult whether you’re [Arsenal boss] Mikel Arteta or [former Chelsea manager] Frank Lampard.
“You have to be brave and make these decisions. We’re trying to be more on the front foot and push up the pitch. That’s something we want to do more. We’re a lot better.
“The players have enjoyed the change, certainly by looking at that performance today. What you need is a result to go with it, so today of course everybody’s happy.”
Everton, who tested keeper Karl Darlow in the first half, could not find a way through Newcastle’s defence and missed out on a chance to draw level on points with Liverpool.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side remain seventh, four points off the top four, but the Italian labelled their performance as “lazy and slow”.
“The sprit was missing. I was surprised,” he added. “We have good quality but you can only show that if you show the spirit. Without spirit there is no quality.”