Joelinton leads the charge as Newcastle United press on in Carabao Cup
Steve Bruce’s side, certainly, brightened up a chilly, autumn evening with a 7-0 win over 10-man Morecambe.
It had followed a depressing, and worrying, few days on Tyneside, which is coming to terms with tighter restrictions amid a coronavirus second wave.
Newcastle United’s fixture list is too congested for Bruce’s liking, but this Carabao Cup tie was arguably just what his team, and especially previously out-of-sorts Joelinton, needed ahead of some important Premier League matches.
Everything, and I mean everything, had gone wrong against Brighton and Hove Albion at the weekend.
Tonight things went right for Newcastle against League Two opposition, and Joelinton, awful against Blackburn Rovers a week earlier, got himself two goals. More, hopefully, will follow.
Newcastle will now face Newport County, another fourth-tier side, in the fourth round of the competition. Bruce may fear injuries, but this competition can be good for his team and the club. United supporters, certainly, need cheering up given that they might not be back inside St James’s Park for six months.
Bruce, United’s head coach, had made nine changes to the team which put in an abject performance three days earlier. Bruce, bluntly, admitted that he got his tactics and team selection wrong.
This competition hasn’t always been kind to Newcastle, but this season’s draw has been kind to the club, which has prioritised Premier League football under Mike Ashley’s ownership.
Yes, the fixture calendar is demanding, but United have the squad to compete on two fronts this season.
The rain that had been lashing the stadium when the team coach pulled up outside had abated by kick-off time. Newcastle started well. Sean Longstaff won a 50-50 and played a superb cross-field ball in the first couple of minutes.
The breakthrough came early. Emil Krafth played the ball to Miguel Almiron and his low cross was swept home by Joelinton. The strike was only the £40million signing’s fifth in English football.
Joelinton, however, should’ve scored again a few minutes later, but he somehow managed to hit the post from a looping Jacob Murphy ball into the box. It was a bizarre miss.
It didn’t matter. Newcastle soon led 2-0. Almiron rounded goalkeeper Mark Halstead, and Murphy, lively on the right, added a third after a powerful run forward. The game was all but over inside the first half hour.
Joelinton made it 4-0 after cutting inside from the left and firing a looping shot past Halstead from outside the box before Toumani Diagouraga was sent off for a reckless challenge on Sean Longstaff, who needed treatment.
An already tough night for the home side had just got tougher, and Isaac Hayden added a fifth before the break.
Lascelles scored with a header from a corner after the break, and United’s players lined up to take shots after that, and Matt Ritchie added a seventh in injury time.
Bruce might be wary of this competition, but his players are up for it.