“We’re going to Wembley,” they sang after Miguel Almiron’s second goal. And why not? They’d seen the best attacking performance from Newcastle United under Steve Bruce.
What’s more, they’d seen their team reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 14 years thanks to a 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Defeat had been unthinkable for Steve Bruce. It would have left him under even more intense pressure, and those fans with nothing to look forward to but a battle against relegation.
The pre-match headlines had been dominated by Allan Saint-Maximin’s fitness. If this is what Saint-Maximin can do with a bad back and a sore hamstring, just imagine what he could do in the next round if fully fit.
Saint-Maximin and Almiron were unstoppable. Joelinton also played his part.
Bruce had made six changes, and the team did everything but score in the first 30 minutes. However, the club’s first goal in a month wasn’t long in coming.
Saint-Maximin – who had hit the post with a thunderous shot just before the half-hour mark – took the ball in his own half and started running. Almiron was running too, and Saint-Maximin intelligently slipped the ball to him. Almiron latched on to his pass and beat Jonathan Bond with a left-footed strike.
It got better. Valentino Lazaro broke down the right and crossed for Joelinton in a crowded box. The striker backheeled the ball to Almiron, who struck it with a first-time shot. United’s fans, massed behind Karl Darlow’s goal, starting chanting “tell me ma, me ma”.
Newcastle pressed on after the break. Almiron switched the ball to Saint-Maximin on the left, and his cross was pushed out to Lazaro by Bond. It struck the loan signing and bobbled over the line.
Danny Rose headed a Phillips chip off the line in the 51st minute, and Matt Phillips and Kenneth Zohore netted late goals for the home side.
United hung on.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow, Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Rose, Bentaleb, S Longstaff, Lazaro (Lejeune, 90), Almiron (Shelvey, 71), Saint-Maximin (Gayle, 80), Joelinton. Subs not used: Elliot, Ritchie, Yedlin, M Longstaff.