Sean Longstaff double fires Newcastle to Wembley
Geordie Sean Longstaff’s priceless double fired Newcastle to a first League Cup final in 47 years as Bruno Guimaraes was sent off on a night of mixed emotions.
With both Magpies and Hollywood royalty in attendance at St James’ Park in the shape of Idris Elba and Bob Moncur, the last man to lift a trophy in the famous black and white shirt in 1969, it was local hero Longstaff whose first-half double secured a 2-1 Carabao Cup semi-final second leg victory over Southampton to book a long-awaited trip to Wembley.
Holding a 1-0 lead from last week’s trip to the St Mary’s Stadium, Eddie Howe’s men were 2-0 ahead within 21 minutes back on Tyneside in front of a delighted crowd of 51,975.
Che Adams’ 29th-minute thunderbolt – the first goal Nick Pope had conceded in 931 minutes of football – meant there was still work to be done, particularly in the wake of Guimaraes’ late dismissal following a VAR review of his challenge on substitute Sam Edozie, but they made it to the final whistle without further mishap.
Newcastle doubled their aggregate advantage within five minutes when Guimaraes’ quick feet in the middle of the pitch allowed him to spread the ball to the right and after Kieran Trippier slid a pass into Longstaff’s feet, he took a touch before firing low past keeper Gavin Bazunu.
Longstaff could have added to his tally within three minutes, but dragged a left-footed attempt wide from Guimaraes’ inviting pass as the hosts laid siege to Bazunu’s goal.
The visitors gradually settled into a period of possession, albeit deep inside their own half with full-back Kyle Walker-Peters threatening sporadically on the break, but with little constructive support.
Their task increased further in difficulty with 21 minutes gone when, after Joe Willock had combined with Joelinton wide on the left, he fed Miguel Almiron, whose pull-back was perfectly weighted for Longstaff to drill home his second of the night.
Adams gave the Saints hope when he smashed a long-range effort past the stunned Pope and for the first time in the game, Howe’s men looked mildly uncomfortable.
However having restored a measure of order before the break, the Magpies returned knowing they were just 45 minutes from Wembley and determined not to allow a Southampton side bolstered by the half-time additions of Romain Perraud and Romeo Lavia any further encouragement.
In a scrappy start to the second half, neither side was able to exert any genuine pressure, although Saints playmaker James Ward-Prowse was belatedly making an impression from a more advanced starting point.
Howe replaced his entire frontline on the hour, sending on Allan Saint-Maximin, Alexander Isak and Jacob Murphy for Willock, Wilson and Almiron, but after former Magpie Adam Armstrong had been denied by Pope, Longstaff tested Bazunu with a well-struck volley.
Bruno’s night ended in tears after referee Paul Tierney was advised to review his challenge on Edozie, prompting a late flurry in front of Pope, but his club’s hopes of ending a wait for domestic silverware which dates back to the 1955 FA Cup final ultimately remained intact.
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