Newcastle 3 Birmingham 1: Ritchie double and Gouffran cracker seal FA Cup progression

Yoan Gouffran.
Yoan Gouffran.

A much changed Newcastle United cruised into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a routine win over Birmingham City.

A Matt Ritchie double, as well as a wonder strike from Yoan Gouffran ensured United will face a trip to Oxford in the next round.

The Magpies' opener came courtesy of Scot Ritchie.

Looking like he had never been away returning skipper Jonjo Shelvey picked out the perfect defence-splitting through ball for Gouffran, who was chopped down by visiting keeper Adam Legzdins. Referee Lee Probert had no hesitations in pointing to the spot.

Ritchie, cool and calm, hammered straight down the middle for 1-0.

And just after the half hour United had their second and it came from a familiar combination.

Shelvey's free-kick found Gouffran again on the edge of the area, with his back to goal the Frenchman produced a piece of magic. Flicking the ball over his head he beat a defender, then took a touch and stroked in.

Ritchie almost added a third prior to the break when he crashed a curling effort off Legzdins' post as dominant United showed no signs of letting up.

United did not have it all their own way in the second 45, though.

Gianfranco Zola's men grew into the clash and have themselves an unlikely lifeline with around 20 minutes to go as David Cotterill cracked a low effort past the on-rushing Matz Sels to reduce the deficit and spark a nervy finish for the hosts.

But the icing was put on the cake by Ritchie when he got on the end of Shelvey's low cross to tap home.