NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, England — Newcastle United qualified for the Carabao Cup semifinals for the first time since 1976 as second-half goals from Dan Burn and Joelinton sealed a 2-0 quarterfinal win on Tuesday against Leicester at St. James’ Park.
A man of the match performance by Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward had threatened to frustrate Newcastle and take the game to penalties, but Burn’s and Joelinton’s goals won the tie to keep alive hopes of a first domestic trophy for the Magpies since 1955.
1. Howe has Newcastle edging closer to glory
Newcastle are closing in on their first major final since 1999 and the club’s transformation under manager Eddie Howe is taking a giant leap forward with their Carabao Cup quarterfinal win against Leicester. Burn’s first goal for the club opened the scoring on 60 minutes before Joelinton made the game safe with Newcastle’s second 12 minutes later.
The result led to lengthy celebrations by the home fans whose desperate wait for success stretches back to the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (now the Europa League) back in 1969. In terms of domestic silverware, the 1955 FA Cup is the last to grace the Newcastle’s trophy cabinet.
But with Newcastle also chasing a top-four finish in the Premier League, progression to a cup semifinal is a huge testament to the work done by Howe since his appointment in November 2021. When he arrived at the club, Newcastle were fighting against relegation, but since then, the former Bournemouth boss has turned the team into one of the most consistent in the Premier League
Howe has transformed the fortunes of several players, including Joelinton and Miguel Almiron in particular, who were regarded as expensive flops before Howe took charge. Both are now in form and crucial figures in the team. And Howe has also worked wonders in the transfer market by helping sign the likes of Burn, Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Nick Pope and Sven Botman.
With Newcastle now backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and poised to keep pace with other top clubs financially, it seems inevitable that success will become the norm in the years ahead.
But right now, the Magpies are at the foothills of their journey, and Howe’s work has been the most significant factor in their rise. They are now eyeing up a Wembley final, with only a semifinal standing between them and the Carabao Cup final.
2. Vardy nears the end, but remains irreplaceable for Leicester
Jamie Vardy missed two clear chances to drag Leicester back into this quarterfinal after coming on a second-half substitute, but the former England forward still did more during his brief spell on the pitch than the rest of Leicester’s forwards.
At 35, Vardy is nearing the end of his incredible career. His story — a non-league striker who was given a late chance in the professional game — is rare in the modern era, and he has squeezed every last drop out of his opportunity in the big time.
But the man whose goals helped Leicester win the 2015-16 Premier League title has scored just once this season, and he can no longer count on being part of the starting team.
Vardy’s pace isn’t what it was and injuries have started to impact his fitness, but Leicester have tried and failed for years now to find a long-term replacement.
Kelechi Iheanacho has done well since arriving from Manchester City, but not to the level of Vardy, while Patson Daka is nowhere near the standard of the former fairground worker who became the first £1 million non-league player when he left Fleetwood Town for Leicester in 2012.
Vardy will go down as Leicester’s greatest-ever player, but the sands of time are beginning to run out.
3. St. James’ Park is a sizzling cauldron once again
Newcastle’s St. James’ Park has always had a reputation as one of the noisiest and most hostile stadiums in England — but for much of the past decade, it had become a soulless ground populated by unhappy fans during the barren years of Mike Ashley’s ownership of the club.
Fans began to drift away and, towards the end of the Ashley era, those supporters that did turn up vowed not to wave banners or flags until the club had new owners.
But since the Saudi Arabia-led takeover at the start of last season and a change in the club’s ambitions, the match-day experience at St. James’ has been transformed.
Newcastle’s links to Saudi Arabia have led to scrutiny over the motivation of the new owners and allegations of sportswashing — and many fans have admitted to being conflicted about their club now being so closely associated with a regime that has been regularly criticised for its human rights record.
But while a big factor in the atmosphere at the stadium is surely the sense of the club going places under the new owners, the end of the Ashley era is perhaps an even bigger one. Under Ashley, Newcastle fans felt the life was being sucked out of their club, but the team and the city have been transformed since he sold up and St. James’ is rocking again.
Back in heady days of the 1990s, the St. James’ atmosphere played a huge part in a 5-0 win against Manchester United and a famous Champions League victory against Barcelona. Against Leicester on Tuesday, St. James’ drove the team onto another big win with flags, colour and noise throughout.
This is one of football’s great arenas, and it finally feels like it again.
Newcastle: Nick Pope 7; Kieran Trippier 7, Sven Botman 6, Fabian Schar 6, Dan Burn 7; Joelinton 6, Sean Longstaff 6, Bruno Guimaraes 6; Miguel Almiron 7, Callum Wilson 6, Joe Willock 7.
Subs: Alexander Isak 6, Allan Saint-Maximin 6, Jacob Murphy 6.
Leicester: Danny Ward 8; Timothy Castagne 6, Wout Faes 7, Daniel Amartey 6, Luke Thomas 5; Wilfred Ndidi 6, Youri Tielemans 6, Marc Albrighton 6; Harvey Barnes 6, Patson Daka 5, Ayoze Perez 6.
Subs: Jamie Vardy 6, Kelechi Iheanacho 6, Nampalys Mendy 6.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Danny Ward, Leicester City
The goalkeeper kept his team in the tie in the first half with a number of key saves. He couldn’t save his team from defeat, but Ward was immense all night.
WORST: Patson Daka, Leicester City
The forward had a clear chance to open the scoring in the first half and instead chose to pass the ball. A woeful decision, which could have cost his team the match. After all, if the Foxes score first, it’s a different game entirely.
Highlights and notable moments
After a frustrating first half for the home side, Newcastle’s St. James’ Park erupted in the 60th minute with a goal by defender Dan Burn.
Newcastle continued to pour on the pressure, and doubled their lead in the 72nd minute from Brazilian midfielder Joelinton.
Tuesday’s match marked Joelinton’s first time notching a goal and assist in the same game since 2020.
Burn’s goal was his first since he joined Newcastle in January 2022.
As a defender who had grown up a Magpies supporter, he was definitely quite pleased about it.
Dan Burn pulling out the dance moves! 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/m7e3z3gric
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 10, 2023
After the match: What the managers said
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers: “The team with the most quality took their chances, so well done to Newcastle. Newcastle have more quality, they played with more quality and needed too many touches in midfield. We were careless with our passing. We didn’t pass the ball properly until Nampalys Mendy came on.”
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe: “The players created lots of chances and their keeper played very well to keep us out until we scored. It was a great team performance. Dan Burn’s goal was a thing of beauty. He won the ball high up the pitch, broke into the area and scored with his right foot, incredibly. He’s a great character and he has added real leadership to the group.”
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
Newcastle advance to the semifinals of the League Cup for the first time since losing in the final to Manchester City in 1975-76.
Newcastle haven’t advanced to a final since the 1998-99 FA Cup (which they lost to Manchester United) and haven’t won a trophy since the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Their last domestic trophy was winning the 1954-55 FA Cup.
Dan Burn scored his first goal for Newcastle in all competitions. He hadn’t scored a goal since Jan. 2, 2022, when he played for Brighton & Hove Albion, in a Premier League game against Everton.
Joelinton had a goal and an assist in the same game for Newcastle for the third time in his career, his first since Nov. 27, 2020.
Newcastle United: The Magpies turn their focus back to the Premier League and will host Fulham on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 9 a.m. ET. A trip to London follows to face Crystal Palace on Jan. 21.
Leicester City: The Foxes resume Premier League play on Saturday, Jan. 14, when they head to Nottingham Forest at 10 a.m. ET. Then they host Brighton & Hove Albion on Jan. 21.