STANDING stock-still with his fingers in his ears has become Ayoze Perez’s trademark after scoring, a gesture to show he has proven doubters wrong, and twice he did it on Saturday when frustration was followed by celebration.

He performed his shtick after each of his two goals as Newcastle United overcame a 2-0 half-time deficit to overcome Everton in a thrilling encounter.

Perez and Salomon Rondon demonstrated their understanding to help the Magpies storm back to win 3-2, Perez scoring twice and a providing a perfectly-delivered delicate assist that led to Rafael Benitez comparing him to Lionel Messi.

High praise indeed on a day of excitement, controversy and errors.

The errors were provided by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and referee Lee Mason, neither having a day they will look back on with a great deal of fondness, whereas Newcastle will remember it as one of the highlights of their season.

It was their fifth home win a row, taking them to 34 points and solidifying their position in the sanctuary of midtable mediocrity, away from potential relegation.

It will be sooner rather than later that they secure the one win – surely one will do – to secure safety if Perez and Rondon continue this form.

Perez dinked over a delightful ball that Rondon volleyed past Pickford midway through the second half for the first Magpies goal, and they later swapped roles for the third goal.

“We changed to two strikers in the second half and we have a good relationship,” said Perez. “We have a good relationship, Rondon and myself, so we understand each other.

“In this case I ran behind, and it was about an understanding. He gave me the ball and without looking I knew the movement he was going to make so I tried to put the ball into him.

“He’s a great goalscorer, so I knew if I was able to put in the right ball he was going to score.

“It was a good link-up with each other, and it was the hardest goal to get, the first one, and everything started with that goal.”

Asked if they have a telepathic understanding, the Spaniard said: “I believe in that. Sometimes you don't have the time to look where you will pass. It is just in your mind, a memory.

“I just tried to put it where he would go, where I imagined in my mind he would go because I know his game well. In this case it happened. It was a great goal. Most important was the win. Everyone else down there below us won today. Wins everywhere. We won as well. We are very close, to staying up.”

The players feel safety is within reach, and so do the fans. They felt considerably less hopeful, however, half an hour into the contest when Everton led 2-0.

Their first goal came on 18 minutes, impish midfielder Bernard playing left-back Lucas Digne into space, and he picked out Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score with a glancing header in off a post.

Worse was to follow, and the first bout of controversy with Mason failing to apply the laws of the game in not sending off Pickford.

He rugby-tackled Rondon, making no attempt to play the ball, yet Mason felt a penalty was justice enough.

Benitez actually agreed with the decision. “No. It was a penalty and the keeper, it could be a yellow card, but that's it. I'm not too worried about that,” he said.

Perhaps he would have been less magnanimous had Newcastle not gone on to win, and victory seemed unlikely when Pickford not only saved Matt Ritchie’s poor penalty – straight down the middle – but 71 seconds later Everton went 2-0 up.

Andre Gomes shrugged off challenges by Ritchie and Miguel Almiron, and played the ball across where goalkeeper Martin Dubravka parried into Richarlison’s path to tap home.

Half-time, 2-0 and ex-Sunderland No. 1 Pickford, given a hostile ‘welcome’, smiled as he headed for the tunnel, and who could blame him given his eventful half, one that ended with him when saving from Perez.

Everton would have little to smile about 45 minutes later, however, with Benitez having inspired his players at half-time.

Known for instigating one of football’s greatest ever comebacks during the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, ex-Liverpool boss Benitez admitted: “It was similar, in terms of the team talk because you have to give them something to believe.”

Belief as well as a chance in approach was needed, Paul Dummett replacing Jamaal Lascelles, Newcastle switching to 4-4-2.

Benitez added: “In Istanbul we changed and put three at the back, we had problems with players between the lines. Today we changed later but the main thing was that, we were doing switch of play and then behind.

“Everton were winning, they were passing the ball, they’re a good team. we needed to be more on top of them, to have more control, otherwise they would be passing the ball for a while. We needed to do something different.”

It worked. Everton were stymied, Magpies kept pressing and midway through the second half came Rondon’s ninth goal of the season, put on a plate by Perez with a perfect pass.

Benitez said: “If you have Alan Shearer doing this with Rondon and Messi doing this with Ayoze, it was a great goal. Then to get two more. It was a great performance from a striker.”

St James’ erupted and amid an intimidating atmosphere Everton crumbled.

Perez double in the final ten minutes took the points, the first after the otherwise elusive Almiron stung Pickford’s palms with a fierce strike, Perez on hand to fire in the loose ball.

“Dodgy keeper” chanted the Newcastle fans, but he pulled off a stunning save to stop Dummett’s rising drive. The goalkeeper had no chance with Perez’s second goal, one which should not have stood.

Isaac Hayden hooked the ball into the penalty where Rondon was one of five players were in an offside position, his touch fell to Perez and he smashed the ball home to complete one of his best days on Tyneside.

He said: “To assist, then score twice obviously it is one of my best performances for Newcastle. I am always happy to score for our cause. To help the team get points is important.

“The goals meant a lot, the win meant a lot. To be able to score the equaliser then a winner is an amazing feeling.

“When we got the second one team-mates were telling us in the corner that come on we can still do it. That is belief. That is wanting to win the game.

“The team-mates in the huddle were saying ‘come on yes, let’s go, we can do it’. That is a winning mentality, and it paid off.”