Rafa Benitez decision booed by Newcastle United fans in FA Cup defeat to Watford

Newcastle United were dumped out of the FA Cup by Watford this afternoon.

By Miles Starforth
Saturday, 26 January, 2019, 15:52

The club's dismal run in the competition continued at St James's Park, where second-half goals from Andre Gray and Isaac Success gave the visitors a deserved 2-0 win and a place in the fifth round.

Newcastle never looked like reaching the fifth round for the first time in 13 years.

And there were boos at the final whistle and for Rafa Benitez's earlier decision to take off Matt Ritchie.

Manager Benitez, again without Jonjo Shelvey, Paul Dummett and Mohamed Diame, had made seven changes compared to 11 from Javi Gracia.

United were again set up in a 5-4-1 formation, with Joselu the lone striker.

Martin Dubravka, Salomon Rondon, Ayoze Perez and Florian Lejeuene were among those rested ahead of Tuesday night's Premier League home game against Manchester City.

The players wore black armbands to pay respects to missing Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala. The first few minutes were punctuated by anti-Mike Ashley chants. The club's owner, however, was not at St James's Park.

Nathaniel Chalobah wasn't far away with a 12th-minute free-kick conceded by Isaac Hayden for a foul on former Newcastle defender Daryl Janmaat, whose every touch was booed by home fans with long memories.

Watford had the upper hand in the first 30 minutes, and Nathaniel Chalobah wasn't far away with a free-kick after Isaac Hayden brought down Janmaat just outside the box.

United's final ball let them down at the other end of the pitch, and Kenedy, back after missing three games through injury and illness, was unable to get at Janmaat, who left the club in the wake of relegation in 2016.

The tie was goalless at the break, and neither manager made a change for the second half.

Andre Gray shot over Freddie Woodman's goal early in the second half. Gray, however, didn't miss in the 61st minute when Will Hughes played a ball into the box for him. The striker got across Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles and tucked the ball away.

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United's first shot on target came in the 67th minute, when Javier Manquillo had a goal-bound shot cleared by Wilmot.

Benitez sent on Ayoze Perez and Christian Atsu – they replaced Jacob Murphy and Ritchie – in the 72nd minute. The decision to withdraw Ritchie, again fielded as a wing-back, was booed by some fans.

Benitez opted against sending on Salomon Rondon and instead sent on defender Fabian Schar for the last 10 minutes

Perez put a half-volley just over Heurelho Gomes' goal before Success scored a second from six yards after being set up by Domingos Quina. Fans started streaming out of the stadium after the goal.

And there were more boos from frustrated supporters at the final whistle.

Relegation-threatened Newcastle, 17th in the Premier League, must now pick themselves up for Tuesday night's home game against Premier League champions Manchester City.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Woodman; Manquillo, Fernandez (Schar, 81), Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie (Atsu, 72); Murphy (Perez, 72), Hayden, Longstaff, Kenedy; Joselu. Subs not used: Dubravka, Yedlin, Lejeune, Rondon.

WATFORD: Gomes, Janmaat, Cathcart, Britos, Masina, Quina, Wilmot, Chalobah (Capoue, 82), Success, Gray (Penaranda, 68), Hughes. Subs not used: Dahlberg, Mariappa, Deulofeu, Deeney, Navarro.

Goals: Gray 61, Success 90

Bookings: Wilmot 56, Chalobah 64, Britos 76, Longstaff 90

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)

Attendance: 34,604