Half-Time Report: Ross Barkley fires Everton ahead at St James' Park

Ross Barkley scores the only goal of the first half to give Everton a 1-0 lead over Newcastle United.

Ross Barkley's strike has given Everton a 1-0 lead over Newcastle United after a tight opening 45 minutes of their Premier League meeting.

Both sides found it difficult to create opportunities in the opening stages of the match as defenders enjoyed some early dominance at St James' Park.

The deadlock was broken in the 22nd minute when Barkley took advantage of some space to take the ball into the box, before earning more room to fire the opening goal past a helpless Tim Krul.

Ross Barkley of Everton celebrates scoring the pening goal with team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St James' Park on March 25, 2014© Getty Images

Everton grew in confidence after taking the lead, but missed an opportunity to double their advantage when Leon Osman saw a shot deflected wide after linking well with Barkley and Romelu Lukaku.

Newcastle threatened to hit back before the interval when Vurnon Anita picked out Papiss Cisse inside the box, but the Senegalese striker was left frustrated when his effort was blocked by a combination of John Stones and Seamus Coleman.

Newcastle United assistant manager John Carver during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Crystal Palace on March 22, 2014
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