Newcastle United star Nick Pope hails ‘unbelievable’ thing Southampton player did in semi-final
Nick Pope conceded for the first time in 11 matches as Newcastle United reached the final of the Carabao Cup with a 2-1 win over Southampton.
An early Sean Longstaff brace put Newcastle 2-0 up on the night at St James's Park and 3-0 up on aggregate before Southampton pulled a goal back just before the half-hour mark. Che Adams’ drilled strike from outside the box flew past Pope and into the bottom left corner of the goal.
Although the goal made no difference in terms of the result, it did see the United goalkeeper’s impressive streak of 10 consecutive clean sheets come to an end as he conceded his first goal in over 900 minutes of competitive football. It was also the first first half goal Pope had conceded in 22 games, a run stretching back to Wolverhampton Wanderers away back in August.
But all good runs must come to an end, as Pope said afterwards: "I just saw Che Adams - it was a good strike but from a defensive point of view, it is a great run we have put together and something we were very proud of.
"We gave ourselves something to protect but the life of a goalkeeper means goals go in and making mistakes at times . That run was never going to last forever and I suppose it's better that the run ends in a winning game. It was an unbelievable strike so credit to Che."
Pope still had to remain alert for the remainder of the game as Southampton pushed to pull another goal back. Former Newcastle striker Adam Armstrong had a great chance to make it 2-2 on the night when he found himself one-on-one but Pope made a crucial stop with his leg to keep the hosts’ advantage intact.
“I don't think I was massively worked tonight but have to be switched on at all times,” he added. “I was pleased with that moment.”
Afterwards, Newcastle were reduced to 10-men as Bruno Guimaraes was shown a red card following a VAR check. Dead ball specialist James Ward-Prowse stepped up to take the resulting free-kick but his effort was blocked by substitute Alexander Isak, who had to be withdrawn as a concussion substitute.
“I was glad it hit the wall,” Pope smiled. “It's all resilience and character, he hasn't ducked out of the way.
“[Isak] has been top drawer since he's come here. Things like that can go unnoticed but that was a big moment.”
Pope can now look forward to the biggest game of his club career at Wembley Stadium on February 26 as Newcastle hope to end a 54-year trophy drought.
"It feels amazing,” he continued. “You could see what it meant to everyone at the end - even before kick off in fact and of course during the game.
"Since reaching the semis, all the talk has been about us making the final so we are delighted to be there. But we haven't won anything yet.
"Right at the start of the season, we talked about our ambitions and improving our results in the cup competitions and what it would mean to the city to bring a cup back to Newcastle so that is our aim now - to go down to London and bring one home"