Newcastle is close to reaching a first cup final since being bought by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Joelinton scored a 73rd-minute winner as Newcastle beat Southampton 1-0 away in the first leg of the English League Cup semifinals on Tuesday.
The second leg is next week at Newcastle’s St. James’ Park, where the team is unbeaten in all competitions this season. Southampton will also have to score against the best defense in English soccer, with Newcastle having now kept 11 clean sheets in its last 12 games.
Fueled by the spending of its Saudi owners since their takeover 18 months ago and shrewd coaching by manager Eddie Howe, the team from the northeast has rapidly grown into a force this season. It is also challenging for Champions League qualification, sitting in third place in the Premier League heading into the second half of the campaign.
”They are a top side – big, physical and athletic,” Southampton manager Nathan Jones said. ”They have had time to recruit and recruited that way, and they are a real tough side to play against.”
Joelinton had had a goal disallowed for handball and also blazed over from close range before the Brazilian midfielder finally gave Newcastle the lead, tapping into an empty net after substitute Alexander Isak had beaten his marker down the right and cut into the area to deliver the cross.
Southampton substitute Adam Armstrong bundled a scruffy finish into Newcastle’s net a few minutes later but the goal was ruled out after a video review, with the striker having inadvertently used his right arm to direct the ball home.
The hosts finished with 10 men at St. Mary’s stadium after center back Duje Caleta-Car was shown a second yellow card in the 86th minute.
”We know 1-0 is delicate,” Howe said. ”Nothing is decided.”
Both teams are looking to end long trophy droughts. While Southampton’s one and only piece of major silverware is the FA Cup in 1976, Newcastle has to go back even longer for a big domestic trophy – the FA Cup in 1955.
Nottingham Forest hosts Manchester United on Wednesday in the first leg of the other semifinal matchup.
NO FA CUP SHOCK
Boreham Wood came up just short in its bid to become the second non-league team to reach the fourth round of this season’s FA Cup.
Its 1-0 loss at third-tier Accrington Stanley after extra time of their third-round replay left Wrexham, with its Hollywood owners, as the only team from outside the Premier League or the three divisions in the English Football League to make the last 32.
Accrington’s goal came in the seventh minute of extra time and set up a fourth-round match against Leeds. Boreham Wood is in 12th place in the 24-team fifth tier.
The fourth round begins Friday with Manchester City hosting Arsenal in a meeting of the Premier League’s top two. Wrexham hosts second-tier Sheffield United on Sunday.
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
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