West Bromwich Albion 2 Newcastle United 3
- Anthony Taylor
Newcastle United progressed to the last eight of the FA Cup in typically dramatic fashion with victory over West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
The Magpies turned in a fine first-half display and built up a two-goal lead at the interval through Miguel Almirón, who took his tally in this season’s competition to four with a pair of impressive finishes.
United looked to be home and hosed after Valentino Lazaro bundled in a third just moments after the interval, but the Baggies started to throw men forward in the final half an hour and grabbed a lifeline through Matt Phillips.
A bit of a nervy period followed, and the Championship leaders eventually closed the gap to one through Kenneth Zohore. Thankfully, though, the damage had been done by that point, with the Magpies seeing out the final few seconds to clinch their place in the quarter finals for the first time in 14 years.
An open start saw goalscoring opportunities at both ends of the pitch come and go. The Magpies were in after just two minutes, veteran Gareth Barry’s slip allowing Nabil Bentaleb the chance to roam into the Baggies’ penalty area. The Algerian could easily have opted to let fly himself but instead tried to square to Almirón, only to misplace the pass. Then, with their first attack, the Baggies called Karl Darlow into action, wide-man Kyle Edwards stinging the palms of the Newcastle stopper after finding a pocket of space on the edge of the penalty area.
It was United who enjoyed considerably more of the ball for much of the opening half, though. Almost midway through, a purposeful run from Joelinton culminated with the Brazilian bringing a low stop out of Baggies ‘keeper Jonathan Bond. He was involved again just moments later, knocking a corner down into the path of Sean Longstaff, who blazed over from a promising position. Then, with the Magpies continuing to probe, Allan Saint-Maximin crashed the ball against the woodwork with a thunderous strike from distance.
Undeterred, Saint-Maximin turned provider to set up United’s opener shortly after the half-hour mark. He carried the ball forward before slipping Almirón through on goal, and the Paraguayan waited for Bond to commit before firing across the ‘keeper and into the far corner of the net. Having been on the back foot for the majority of the first 45 minutes, West Brom would likely have settled for a 1-0 scoreline at the interval, but the Magpies had other ideas. With the last action of the half, they doubled their lead, Almirón providing the finish once more after running onto Joelinton’s cute back-heel.
Having squandered a two-goal lead at Oxford United in the last round of the competition, the Magpies swiftly looked to make sure there’d be no repeat performance this time out – and it was just as well they did. Almirón switched play to Saint-Maximin down the left, and the Frenchman looked to pick out Lazaro with a dinked cross. It appeared to be a simple take for Bond but the ‘keeper made a hash of it, parrying the ball onto the body of the Austrian international, who watched on gleefully as it dropped back towards goal and over the line.
To their credit, West Brom didn’t allow their heads to drop further, and proceeded to enjoy a promising spell. They came close to pulling a goal back straight away, Phillips managing to beat Darlow with a right-footed lob and Danny Rose having to come to the ‘keeper’s rescue to head the ball away from danger. Baggies boss Slaven Bilic then chose to shuffle his pack, withdrawing Barry and introducing Filip Krovinovic in midfield. The substitute nearly made an instant impact, seeing a 20-yard strike drop just over the target with his first involvement.
With Newcastle’s own attacking charge starting to peter out, the hosts got off the mark with just over a quarter of an hour to play. Moments after Edwards rattled the woodwork with a rasping drive, Phillips was on hand to fire the ball into the ground, off the underside of the crossbar and into the net after a period of Albion pressure. The Championship leaders nearly ate into United’s advantage further with their next attack, Darlow only able to parry a long-range strike from Krovinovic but Zohore failing to make anything come of the follow-up.
Into the final ten minutes, and it was all West Brom. Had Fabian Schär not got back in time to divert another Phillips strike – which had already got the better of Darlow – out of harm’s way, the final five minutes would have been borderline unbearable from a United perspective. In the event, Zohore’s effort – created by Edwards after a run to the byline – arrived too late in the day to trigger the grandstand finale that, for much of the evening, never looked likely to come.