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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Newcastle United 2-1 Southampton (3-1 agg): Local hero Longstaff sends Magpies to Wembley

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Sean Longstaff scored twice as Newcastle United booked their EFL Cup final place after wrapping up a 3-1 aggregate victory over Southampton.

Magpies academy graduate Longstaff was the local hero at St James’ Park, where his boyhood club were 2-1 winners in the second leg to seal a first cup final appearance since 1999.

The midfielder’s first-half brace – and his first home goals in nearly four years – sent Eddie Howe’s side to Wembley, though they finished the contest with 10 men after Bruno Guimaraes’ late red card.

Che Adams scored a brilliant consolation for Southampton, who were denied a third final appearance in the competition.

The typically buoyant Toon Army were on their feet in the fifth minute when Longstaff exchanged passes with Kieran Trippier before sweeping the ball past Gavin Bazunu.

Longstaff went close again when he drilled just wide, but made no mistake in the 21st minute. A clever one-two with Joelinton released Joe Willock with the latter subsequently finding Miguel Almiron, whose inviting square ball was clinically tucked away by the midfielder.

Shell-shocked Southampton replied against the run of play eight minutes later. Willock’s loose pass went straight to Adams, who denied the Magpies a ninth successive home clean sheet when he fired a stunning 25-yard effort into the bottom corner.

Saints almost clawed another goal back in the 73rd minute as Nick Pope denied former Newcastle striker Adam Armstrong.

Longstaff and Guimaraes went close to sealing it at the other end before the Brazil international received a straight red card following a VAR review for a late challenge on Samuel Edozie seven minutes from time.

But the numerical disadvantage could not deny the Magpies a long-awaited return to a Wembley final.

What does it mean? Newcastle seal Wembley return

Newcastle have reached their first EFL Cup final in 47 years – in what is the biggest gap between appearances – and will hope they are less than a month away from landing a first major trophy since the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

Southampton’s hopes of becoming only the third team to recover from a semi-final first-leg defeat on home soil effectively ended after their slow start at St James’ Park, where they have now won just once in 19 visits.

Longstaff the local hero

You wait 13 appearances for your first EFL Cup goal, and then two come along at once.

Indeed, Longstaff, who was just one-and-a-half years old when the Magpies were runners-up to Manchester United in the 1999 FA Cup, picked the perfect moment to help his boyhood club seal their return to a final with two brilliantly taken goals from a game-high four shots.

Adams matches Le Tissier

It proved a consolation but Adams made Southampton history with his fine strike; becoming the first Saints player since Matt Le Tissier (1994-95) to score five goals in a single EFL Cup campaign.

The striker is also the first player to score against Newcastle at St James’ Park since Brentford’s Ivan Toney in October, and the second to net against them in this season’s competition after Elliott Nevitt of Tranmere Rovers.

Key Opta facts

– Southampton have lost each of their last four matches against Newcastle across all competitions (all since the start of 2022), their longest ever losing streak against the Magpies.
– Newcastle recorded their 15th victory of the 2022-23 campaign, in what was their 27th game, the quickest they have reached 15 wins in a single season as a top-flight club since 2001-02 (24th game).
– Newcastle opened the scoring after just four minutes and 14 seconds in this match, their earliest opening goal in a game at St. James’ Park this season, and their second-quickest opener overall, after going ahead at Leicester City on Boxing Day inside three minutes (2:37).
– Trippier has made more assists than any other Newcastle player this season (six), while only Andrew Robertson (eight) has more among defenders for Premier League clubs across all competitions this term.
– Adams’ goal for Southampton was the first that Newcastle had conceded in the first half of a match since August 2022 (Ruben Neves for Wolves), with tonight the 22nd game that the Magpies have played since then.

What’s next?

Newcastle resume their Champions League qualification surge at home to Bournemouth, while Southampton continue their battle for survival away at Brentford, both on Saturday.

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