Newcastle captain Alan Shearer has labelled Thomas Gravesen a coward for the tackle that floored Olivier Bernard in the move that led to Everton’s winning goal over the title-chasiers.

The foul went unpunished by referee Neale Barry and Everton advanced topwards the Newcastle goal, earning a penalty which led to the winning goal. The incident infuriated the Newcastle team and brought conemnation from Shearer.

‘It was a coward’s challenge by Gravesen because Olivier went to win the ball and did win it, and Gravesen went in to hurt him and he hurt him badly,’ said Shearer.

‘It is a challenge that could finish a player’s career. It should have been a straight red and everyone could see it.

‘For Everton to go up the other end and score a penalty rubbed salt into the wounds.’

Manager Sir Bobby Robson admitted that the decision and subsequent defeat had effectiovely ended Newcastle’s linerging title hopes.

‘The decision in the end cost us the match and has probably cost us any chance we had of the title,’ said Robson.

‘In the circumstances I’m not sure my lads would have kicked it out either.

‘But frankly the referee could have taken control. If he had given the free-kick or stopped the play when someone was injured the situation wouldn’t have arisen.

‘It was a massive defeat and has killed our chances. We were hovering around waiting for Arsenal or Manchester United to make a mistake but this defeat kills any realistic hopes of that.’

Robson revealed that Everton boss David Moyes apologised for his players not kicking the ball out of play to allow Bernard to receive treatment.