NEWCASTLE, UK: Tell me ma, me ma, they won’t be home for tea — Newcastle United are going to Wembley.
For the first time in 23 years the Magpies are heading to the home of English football and it was the iconic chant, to the tune of Doris Day’s classic “Que Sera Sera,” that rung around the streets and bars of Tyneside for the first time this century.
Geordie Sean Longstaff proved United’s local hero as his two goals put United 3-0 in front over the two legs, before Che Adams got a consolation. Bruno Guimaraes was sent off late for the Magpies, however they hung on to secure a Carabao Cup date with destiny on Sunday, Feb. 26. Facing them is likely to be Manchester United, who take on Nottingham Forest in their second leg on Wednesday with a 3-0 advantage in the bank.
“I feel really good. Very proud of the players and everyone connected with the club. A great night for us,” said head coach Eddie Howe.
“I thought it was one of the best 20-minute spells we’ve seen. The rest of the game was difficult but really pleased with the start to the match.
“You speak to people and there is a lot of people at the football club that have been here a long time so you get an idea of what it means. From my perspective, you’re so focused on the details of how we’re going to play and what we’re going to do, you can’t take your eye off that for a second so you shelter yourself from some of the feeling around the city. I think it’s nice to know and see how much it means. The view of the stadium again tonight with the flags and scarves made it an incredible place to play football.”
Very much in keeping with their Premier League form, the Magpies got off to a flyer — and it was Tyneside born and bred Longstaff who packed his shooting boots on the night.
He bagged two goals in the space of 16 first-half minutes and but for a swing and a miss, could have netted the Magpies’ first hat trick in the competition since Craig Bellamy in 2001.
His first came when a Guimaraes turn on the edge of the area freed skipper Kieran Trippier on the right and a deft ball into the midfielder was tucked home with a class so often missing from Longstaff’s wayward finishing this season.
Just moments later he almost made it 2-0 as a lash with his left foot skidded narrowly wide. He was in no mood to let the Saints off the hook, though, and did double the advantage on 20 minutes when he finished a slick passing move.
A rapid break down the left by Joe Willock saw Miguel Almiron fed in the middle and a cutback fell kindly for Longstaff, who smashed into the Gallowgate End net. The stuff dreams are made of for the lad from North Shields.
This wouldn’t be Newcastle United without a scare or two, though. And despite seemingly cruising at 3-0 up in the tie — having won 1-0 down on the south coast — they opened the door for the opposition.
A Willock error gifted possession to Che Adams and with one stroke of his right peg from distance he narrowed the difference between the sides.
Despite being two goals to the good nerves began to emanate from the pitch and into the terraces as the visitors pressed, pressed and pressed some more.
Nick Pope, a spectator largely to this point, had to be at his broad, sprawling best to deny former United forward Adam Armstrong.
Hanging on, but still looking dangerous on the break, United had a penalty call turned down when a Sven Botman header seemingly hit a Saints arm in the area before Longstaff almost finished it with a long-range effort, saved by Gavin Bazunu.
Having clipped the outside of the post with a left-footed curler, Bruno then had a moment of madness, which did little for nerves on the night.
The Brazilian was red-carded for a late lunge on Samuel Edozie, which was rightfully turned from a yellow into a red with the help of VAR.
Despite the late scare, United held on. And luckily for the team, Howe and Guimaraes, his instant three-game ban will be up by the time the trip to London comes around later this month.
Howe continued: “At the moment this doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s about the club it’s not about me. I’m proud to get to the final but my thought is always for the club.
“The challenge comes in the next few days with preparing for West Ham. We need to get back to work and not let this impact our league form.
“You’re always on to the next challenge.
“I’ve enjoyed tonight in a weird way but when you sit back and relax you come undone. You’re always on edge looking to win the next game.”