Newcastle are off to Wembley! Longstaff the unlikely hero as Magpies down Southampton to reach first domestic final since 1999
- Longstaff finished two great team goals
- Adams pulled one back with screamer
- Newcastle reach first final in 24 years
TELL ME MORE: It was always going to be tough for Saints to overturn a one-goal deficit at a bouncing St. James' Park, and the decibels rose a few notches when local lad Longstaff scored the opener. The 25-year-old's expert finish didn't tell of a man scoring his first of the season, and after missing a sitter he made it two by capping off a fine team move just moments later. Southampton looked down and out before Che Adams pulled a long-range beauty out of nowhere, ending Nick Pope's run of 10 consecutive clean sheets.
Former Magpie Adam Armstrong should have sparked a comeback but fired straight at Pope one-on-one with just 15 minutes left. The home side then endured a nervy finish when Bruno Guimaraes was dismissed for a horror challenge on substitute Samuel Edozie. The suspension means he will miss Newcastle's next three league outings against West Ham, Bournemouth and Liverpool, dealing Newcastle a major blow on an otherwise joyous night.
THE MVP: In a Newcastle team boasting the offensive talent of Bruno Guimaraes, Joelinton and Callum Wilson, few would have foreseen Longstaff being the hero. That means no disrespect to the 25-year-old, but two goals in his last 80 matches tells its own story. This tally was matched in little over 20 minutes at St. James' Park, and, in truth, the midfielder should have sealed a hat-trick. In the end, Longstaff will have to settle for scoring twice to take his boyhood club to their first major domestic final in 25 years. We can't imagine there'll be too many complaints.
THE BIG LOSER: Southampton forward Armstrong somehow managed to evade the scoresheet at St. Mary's a week ago, but he was at fault at the other end of the pitch on Tuesday. The Saints forward was weak in the challenge for Longstaff's first, but had the opportunity to redeem himself with the scores at 2-1 and little over 15 minutes on the clock. Played through brilliantly by Romeo Lavia and with only Pope to beat, Armstrong declined to take the obvious option and round the keeper. He instead tried and failed to dink it over Pope, spurning a golden opportunity for Southampton to spark an unlikely comeback.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? Barring a minor miracle, Tuesday's semi-final result sets up a Carabao Cup final against Manchester United, who were 2-0 victors over Newcastle the last time the Magpies reached a major domestic final, back in the 1998-99 FA Cup campaign.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐⭐⭐