Football: Newcastle sink Saints to end 47-year wait to reach League Cup final

Newcastle United's Sean Longstaff celebrates scoring their second goal. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEWCASTLE - Eddie Howe hailed Newcastle as “a club on the up” after they reached the English League Cup final for the first time in 47 years with a 2-1 win against Southampton in Tuesday’s semi-final second leg at St James’ Park.

Sean Longstaff’s first-half double ensured Howe’s side finished the job after winning 1-0 in the first leg last week.

Che Adams reduced the deficit before the interval and Magpies midfielder Bruno Guimaraes was sent off in the closing stages.

But Newcastle held on to clinch a 3-1 aggregate victory that booked a final date with either Manchester United or Nottingham Forest at Wembley on Feb 26.

The Magpies’ most recent domestic final ended in defeat against United in the 1999 FA Cup.

“You want to be in finals of competitions to increase your status and make yourself more desirable for people to join. This is a club on the up,” Howe said.

“It was an intense game. At 2-0, we were playing really well.

“We are going for everything. As much as we can achieve, we will go for.

“Now we want to go one step further and win the trophy. We want to create new history for ourselves.

“As humans, you think you want something, then you achieve what you wanted, which is getting to the final, then you go, ‘I am not happy with that, we’ve got to win it’.

“That is a great thing and I want my players to feel the same way.”

Newcastle, who have never won the League Cup, are aiming to lift a major domestic trophy for the first time since the 1955 FA Cup.

Their last major silverware in any competition came in the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

On a cathartic night for Newcastle after decades of suffering, it was fitting that Longstaff, a boyhood Magpies fan, should be the one to send them to Wembley.

With Newcastle legends Alan Shearer and David Ginola joining the celebrations in the stands, raucous Magpies fans were ready to keep the party going all night long in the city’s Bigg Market and Quayside bars.

Revitalised by Howe’s astute leadership and the financial muscle of a largely Saudi-backed ownership group, a club once regarded as the laughing stock of the Premier League can finally hold their heads high.

They sit third in the Premier League and look set for a sustained period as contenders for the English game’s top honours.

Reaching their first domestic Cup final this century is another significant landmark in Newcastle’s rebirth.

“It is amazing. If you’d have said to anyone 12 months ago what was going to happen, they would have laughed,” Longstaff said.

“Since the takeover, we have brought in quality players. It is really special and emotional for me what we are building here.”

Ramping up an already vociferous atmosphere, Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon was paraded on the pitch before kick-off after completing his £45 million (S$72.7 million) move from Everton.

Sean Longstaff scores Newcastle’s second goal to complete his double. PHOTO: REUTERS

There were a lot of positives for Newcastle but for Premier League bottom side Southampton, it is back to focusing on survival in the English top flight.

Saints manager Nathan Jones was unhappy with his side’s performance, but admitted that avoiding relegation is the key objective for his team now.

“I’m disappointed with the first 20 minutes, we were far too passive. The goals were bad and we let runners drift into the box,” he said.

“We flagged up those runners into the box from the first leg but we didn’t learn.

“The reaction was fantastic, we got back into it and pushed them in the second half but we just weren’t clinical enough.

“When we tweaked the system, they responded but certain things have to be better.

“Beating relegation is the key. We’ve got big games coming up against tough opposition and we need to come through those games positively.” AFP

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