Football: ‘Nothing is decided’, warns Howe as Newcastle inch towards League Cup final

Newcastle United's Joelinton (left) scoring their goal against Southampton in the League Cup on Tuesday, PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON – Eddie Howe has warned Newcastle United not to get carried away after they moved within touching distance of the League Cup final with a 1-0 win against Southampton in Tuesday’s semi-final first leg.

Joelinton netted in the second half at St Mary’s to put the Magpies on the brink of their first domestic Cup final since 1999, while Southampton’s Duje Caleta-Car was sent off in the closing stages as a feisty clash boiled over.

The Saints, bottom of the Premier League, felt hard done by after Adam Armstrong’s equaliser was disallowed by the video assistant referee (VAR) for handball.

But Newcastle can book their long-awaited trip to Wembley in the second leg at St James’ Park next Tuesday, with the winner facing Manchester United or Nottingham Forest in the final.

Forest host United in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday, with the result not available at press time.

Newcastle boss Howe is not taking anything for granted yet, however.

“It’s been a good day but there’s still a long way to go in the tie. Pleased to win, that was our aim, but we know 1-0 is delicate,” he said. “It was a tough game. I thought both teams had their moments. Nothing is decided. We go back to St James’ with our fans behind us.”

Admitting Newcastle were fortunate to avoid conceding Armstrong’s disallowed equaliser, he added: “I thought it was a goal. Very pleased to see VAR intervene.”

The VAR intervention and several fine saves from goalkeeper Nick Pope means Newcastle have kept 16 clean sheets in all competitions this season, two more than any other side in Europe’s big five leagues, including 10 in their last 11 games.

“We controlled the game but we missed big chances,” Newcastle midfielder Bruno Guimaraes told Sky Sports.

“It’s just the first game now, we need to think about the next one. I’m proud of the team today.

“One goal is important, we could score more but most important was to be one goal in front of Southampton. I want to thank Nick Pope, I think he’s the best goalkeeper in the world. Let’s keep it going.”

Newcastle are enjoying a renaissance this season, thanks to Howe’s astute leadership and the financial investment of the club’s Saudi-backed ownership group.

The Magpies sit third in the Premier League and are making their first domestic semi-final appearance since 2005.

Underlining Newcastle’s new, confident attitude, Howe said merely reaching a semi-final was “not enough” as he aims to win the club’s first major domestic trophy since the 1955 FA Cup.

The Magpies’ most recent domestic Cup final ended in defeat against United in the 1999 FA Cup, with their last major silverware coming in the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

For Newcastle, this is their most promising period since the Kevin Keegan era in the 1990s and they left the south coast having taken another step on the road back to relevance.

Southampton manager Nathan Jones, meanwhile, rued his side’s missed opportunities in what he felt was a close game.

“It is a game of margins,” he told Sky Sports. “We are so close to being a good side. We have to start taking our chances and stop conceding silly goals.

“It is not about now or the next game, it is about building something we can be proud of.”
AFP, REUTERS

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