Football Features

“A completely different side” – Five things learned as Newcastle beat West Brom to reach FA Cup quarter-finals

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:16, 3 March 2020

Newcastle United are into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup after they beat Championship side West Bromwich Albion 3-2.

Miguel Almiron scored twice in the first half to give the Mapgies a comfortable lead, which was added to by Valentino Lazaro just after the break.

They were in for a nervy end as goals from Matt Phillips and Kenneth Zohore closed the gap, but Steve Bruce’s side managed to hold on.

1. Almiron loves the FA Cup

Newcastle fans waited for so long for Miguel Almiron to open his account for the club, 27 games in fact, since his arrival as the club’s record signing and the Paraguayan finally getting off the mark.

That goal came in the Premier League but Almiron has really made his part this season in the FA Cup, helping Newcastle to reach the quarter-finals. In total, Almiron has scored six goals for Newcastle across all competitions, four of which have come in the FA Cup.

Netting in both the initial tie and replay against Rochdale in the third round, Almiron doubled his FA Cup tally against West Brom with two very well taken goals. The first was a calm finish when played in on goal by Allan Saint-Maximin, beating Jonathan Bond with the ease he had not been able to find earlier in his Newcastle career. He added his second just before half-time, pouncing quickly onto a Joelinton backheel, sending the ball into the top corner despite appearing to slip as he took his shot.

In an excellent performance from Almiron, the Paraguayan also played a big part in Newcastle’s third, finding Saint-Maximin on a counter attack who eventually set up Valentino Lazaro.

Had Newcastle been in the FA Cup when Almiron signed last season, would he have taken so long to open his account?

2. Newcastle a step too far for West Brom

Just a few weeks ago, things were looking great for West Brom. They had a slightly comfortable cushion at the top of the Championship and will have fancied their chances of reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals at the expense of a poor Newcastle side.

But they were beaten by Wigan at the weekend, cutting their lead over Leeds to one, and now they’re out of the FA Cup. And it’s a result they deserved to be on the end of.

The Baggies were not good enough on Tuesday night, allowing their Premier League opponents far too much respect when a better team would have put them to the sword. West Brom had already seen off Premier League opposition this season, beating West Ham in the fourth round, but hadn’t eliminated two top-flight sides in 2001/02 en route to the quarter-finals.

This would be a step too far for the Baggies and they will be hoping to bounce back quickly in the Championship, or risk losing their automatic promotion place.

3. FA Cup offers relief for Steve Bruce

Life in the Premier League hasn’t been the best for Newcastle recently, with the Magpies 14th in the table and inconsistent in their fight to get away from the relegation zone. They had failed to score in five of their past six games going into Tuesday’s match and hopes may not have been high against the Championship leaders.

But Newcastle played like a completely different team at The Hawthorns, with a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals in sight despite not having reached this stage of the competition since 2005/06. Then, they progressed to the quarter-finals as they have in each of the last eight times they’ve reached the stage – including this season’s win.

To make matters even stranger for the Magpies, they are the highest-scoring Premier League team in the FA Cup this season, taking their tally to 11 overall – helped somewhat by the fact they have played more games, with two replays. But they haven’t been able to carry that form into the league against teams on a similar level, scoring fewer goals than any other Premier League side this season. In fact, they’ve scored just 13 goals more in the Premier League than the FA Cup despite playing 23 more matches.

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4. West Brom give Newcastle a warning

Newcastle were cruising just after half-time, 3-0 up and well on their way to the quarter-finals. But, like they have done so many times, Newcastle decided to make things hard for themselves.

Substitutions saw Newcastle switch from an initial four-man defence to a back five which invited pressure from the hosts, and credit should be given to West Brom for obliging. After Bilic took Charlie Austin off midway through the second half, West Brom stepped up their game, with the likes of Matt Phillips, Kenneth Zohore and Kyle Edwards getting at the Newcastle defence.

Phillips was the first to pull a goal back for the hosts, just seven minutes after coming on, being set up by Zohore who had replaced Austin. They continued to push and look for the second goal, which did come, albeit slightly too late. Good wide play from Edwards set Zohore up with a tap-in, but the Baggies had just two minutes of injury time left to find an equaliser and it ultimately did not happen.

The Baggies can take pride from their second-half reaction and use it to keep their Championship title push alive, but for Newcastle it was another warning against taking their foot off the gas.

5. David McGoldrick breaks his duck as Blades reach quarter-finals

As well as Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Liverpool, there was a third game on show in the FA Cup fifth round of Tuesday with Reading hosting Sheffield United.

Chris Wilder’s men have been excellent in the Premier League this season and are genuine contenders for a Europa League spot. Many of their players have stepped up but one who has been unlucky is David McGoldrick.

The 32-year-old striker had not scored for Sheffield United all season, despite playing 20 games and having 36 shots going into the clash with Reading. But it took him just two minutes at the Madejski to find the net, getting his head onto the end of a wonderful cross from Ben Osborn.

Reading did manage to equalise before half-time from the penalty spot, eventually taking the game to extra-time. However, Billy Sharp was on hand to score the winning goal, sending Sheffield United to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2013/14

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