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Newcastle to play in Europa League after final-day defeat
NEWCASTLE will play in the Europa League next season after rounding off the current campaign with a 3-1 defeat at Everton.
Needing to win to have any chance of finishing in the top four, the Magpies slumped to a heavy defeat at Goodison Park.
Goals from Steven Pienaar, Nikica Jelavic and Jonny Heitinga fired Everton into a three-goal lead, and while Tony Hibbert's own goal reduced the arrears, Newcastle never really looked like clawing their way back into the game.
As a result, they finish in fifth position, still a considerable achievement given the problems that appeared to exist prior to the start of the campaign.
Today, Newcastle came close to breaking the deadlock in the first minute as Fabricio Coloccini's header deflected goalwards off Heitinga, but it did not take Everton long to wrest the initiative.
Marouane Fellaini had already gone close with a header that floated narrowly wide when he laid the ball off to Pienaar in the 16th minute.
The South African, who is on loan at Goodison Park from Spurs, took aim from the edge of the area, and beat Tim Krul thanks to a hefty deflection off an unfortunate Mike Williamson.
Everton could have doubled their lead shortly after, but after Leon Osman squared Leighton Baines' cross back across the face of the six-yard box, Pienaar drilled a close-range strike into the side netting.
However, the hosts did not have to wait long to extend their advantage. Heitinga's 27th-minute long ball released Jelavic beyond a hesitant Coloccini, and while Krul saved the Croatian's first shot, he was powerless to prevent the in-form striker hooking in the rebound.
Like Jelavic, Papiss Cisse has made quite an impression since moving in the January transfer window, but Newcastle's in-form marksman was unable to add to his 13 goals when a chance finally presented itself on the stroke of half-time.
Demba Ba touched Jonas Gutierrez's cross into his path, but Cisse stabbed a shot from the edge of the area narrowly wide of the post.
Cisse was presented with an even better chance in the first minute of the second half, but having been released by Hatem Ben Arfa, the Senegal international scuffed his shot wide of the post.
Newcastle switched formation to 4-3-3 in an attempt to chase the game, but they fell further behind in the 65th minute. Darron Gibson swung in a free-kick from the right, and an unmarked Heitinga headed home from the edge of the six-yard box.
The Magpies claimed a consolation with 18 minutes left, but their goal owed much to some desperate defending from Hibbert. Ryan Taylor launched a hopeful long ball into the area, and a back-tracking Hibbert headed past a helpless Howard.
There was then drama after the final whistle as Tim Cahill was sent off for grabbing Yohan Cabaye by the throat. The Newcastle midfielder was booked for his part in the tussle.
EVERTON (4-1-4-1): Howard; Hibbert, Heitinga (Distin 70), Jagielka, Baines; Neville (Cahill 74); Osman, Fellaini, Gibson, Pienaar; Jelavic (Stracqualursi 83).
Subs (not used): Mucha (gk), Coleman, Barkley, Gueye.
NEWCASTLE (4-4-2): Krul; Perch (Marveaux 46), Williamson, Coloccini, Santon (R Taylor 46); Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Tiote (Shola Ameobi 81), Gutierrez; Cisse, Ba.
Subs (not used): Elliot (gk), Ferguson, Gosling, Obertan.