West Brom 2-3 Newcastle United
A fifth round tie and an opportunity to reach a Quarter Final of the FA Cup for the first time in a generation was the prize up for grabs in tonights visit to the Hawthorns. And, despite a late fightback from the home side, United are deservedly into the next round.
Two first half goals, both expertly taken, from Miggy Almiron had United in control at the break. Lazaro then scored in the first minute of the second half to make it three. Two goals, one in injury time, form the home side at least made the score respectable for the Championship side, but United did more than just hang on to see this one through.
Newcastle United. Quarter Finalists and just 90 minutes from Wembley!
Bruce made 6 changes for this one which notably saw Saint-Maximin returning to the starting line up following a few days of media hype about his future at the club after he missed the game against Burnley. Bruce saying the rumours were ‘total nonsense’ confirming the player had missed training before and after that match.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Rose, Bentaleb, S Longstaff, Lazaro (Lejeune, 90), Almiron (Shelvey, 70), Saint-Maximin (Gayle, 80), Joelinton
5,000 travelling Mags made the round trip of over 400 miles in the hope of seeing the black and whites progress with Bruce sticking with his 'more attacking' formation with 4 at the back and three behind Joelinton who takes the role up front on his own again.
And United should have made more of a glorious opportunity in the first 2 minutes when a mistake from the West Brom defence allowed Bentaleb to stroll into the box with only one player ahead of him and Almiron free to his right. Inexplicably Bentaleb played the ball behind his striker however and the chance was gone.
Next Longstaff played in Manquillo in on the right but he couldn’t get to the ball quick enough to play a first time cross to Joelinton who was steaming in at the back post. Again, the chance fizzled out.
A really good start from Newcastle United. Now could they find that bit of quality in the final third!
Just before the 20 minute mark a great run by Joelinton who picked up the ball on the left flank, did his man for pace, cut into the box and unleashed a shot that would sting the palms of Bond who could only push the ball back into the danger area before being smuggled behind for a corner. Great skill from the big man.
Moments later another corner allowed Joelinton to head back across goal but Longstaff, usually so calm in such situations, fired high and wide.
On the half hour the closest either side had come to a goal. Indeed you can’t get any closer. Joelinton popping the ball back to ASM fully 30 yards out. But his shot, having beaten the goalkeeper all ends up, couldn’t beat the post and came crashing back of Bond’s right hand post.
United weren’t to be denied however. Saint-Maximin picking the ball up in his own half and driving into West Brom territory. This time the Frenchman would look up and find a beautifully weighted through ball to pick out Almiron who burst through the Baggies back line before slotting past Bond. A great goal, poise and composure from both United players.
Newcastle in total control going into one minute of injury time, and Bruce would have been delighted at going in 1-0 up.
Step up Almiron again. A good break from Lazaro down the United right ended in a cross that was deflected into Joelinton’s path. With no opportunity to shoot his back heel onto the penalty spot allowed Miggy to slide in a rifle a left foot screamer into the top left corner. 2-0. Limbs!
What a great first half for the Magpies.
What Newcastle needed was a strong start in the second half, and that’s exactly what they got.
Another lightning break saw Almiron switch the ball from right to left with a great pass to Saint-Maximin, his cross being palmed by the West Brom keeper onto the chest of Valentino Lazaro and into the back of the net. They all count. More scenes. 3-0 with 46 minutes on the clock.
West Brom almost got one back on 50 minutes when Phillips chipped Darlow after a long punt over the top allowed the striker to break clear. Danny Rose on hand however to nod off the line and wide for a corner to the home side that came to nothing.
West Brom were at least now having a go. Throwing a few more forward looking for some way back into the game. With more gaps appearing at the other end as a consequence it certainly seemed like there would be at least one more goal in this one.
Phillips came close to getting a goal for the home side on 72 when his shot from range hit Lascelles on the back and wrong footed Darlow, only to hit the bar and come back into play.
On 73 Phillips would get his goal after a scramble in the Newcastle area his effort from just outsider the penalty area coming off the underside of the crossbar and in.
Composure now required from the Magpies.
In the 89th minute Schar to almost got in on the act. His swashbuckling run from centre half and exchange of passes with Gayle ended in a feirce left foot effort that again could only be pushed back into the box and to safety.
On 93 minutes West Brom got another. A fantastic run by Edward, cutting into the box and squaring to Zahore gave the West Brom substitute the easiest job to tap the ball home form close range.
But that was that. Despite the late scare United were, for the most part, in control and thoroughly deserved the win.
A Quarter Final it is then.