Newcastle boss Eddie Howe says his side are eager to “go one better” than last season’s runners-up finish in the Carabao Cup after his side beat Manchester City to reach this campaign’s fourth round.
Alexander Isak scored the winner for a largely second-string Newcastle, who came to life after the break to beat a much-changed City.
Newcastle, who lost to Manchester United in last year’s final, made 10 changes from Sunday’s 8-0 win at Sheffield United and barely got a kick in a first half dominated by the visitors.
But with Bruno Guimaraes and Anthony Gordon sent on at the break, the Magpies were transformed, with Isak slotting home following fine work from Joelinton.
“Pre-game, the run last year was in our thoughts,” Howe told Sky Sports. “It was an inspiration to us and helped our season, albeit the final maybe affected our league results. We look back on it with real pride.
“We want to try and go one further if we can but there is a long way to go at this stage. We are still there fighting.”
Disciplined but passive in the face of City’s possessional dominance, Howe’s men were fortunate to still be level after 45 minutes, with Julian Alvarez missing two decent chances.
Pep Guardiola opted for seven changes of his own, giving a first start to young midfielder Oscar Bobb among them, but the familiar patient probing was evident.
But the home side deserved their victory thanks to their second-half display, which was full of energy and endeavour and played largely in the face of a City side who could not react.
For Pep Guardiola’s side, it was just a second loss inside 90 minutes in their last 38 games in all competitions.
Newcastle are now unbeaten in four games after a run of three straight losses, with their reward for Wednesday’s win a fourth-round shot at revenge against the side that beat them in last year’s final.
The only downside for Newcastle, with Paris St-Germain to come on Wednesday in the Champions League after Saturday’s league visit of Burnley, was Isak departing the game on the hour with an injury.
Even with so many changes, the styles of these two sides and the reasons they are both so prominent in the English game now was evident in an entertaining game of two halves at St James’ Park.
City looked to dominate and patiently pick apart their opponent – a process they slotted into seamlessly in the first 45 minutes without making an important breakthrough.
Bobb buzzed about and produced some nice touches, Kalvin Phillips saw plenty of the ball and recycled it neatly inside the Newcastle half and Jack Grealish gave the home defence plenty to stay vigilant about.
Had Alvarez shown the kind of predatory finishing that has defined his season thus far with two chances – the first the best of the two but saved by a Nick Pope boot – City could well be looking at a fourth-round tie of their own.
But even with a shadow side, Newcastle are a well-drilled unit out of possession and they held firm until the break before turning on the afterburners in a superb second period.
The introduction of Gordon and Guimaraes in place of full debutants Lewis Hall and 17-year-old Lewis Miley was the catalyst, but the whole Magpies side were improved.
Gone was the passivity and in its place an arrowhead of energy and intent straight to the heart of City’s defence.
“It was a game of two halves,” said Howe. “[The] first was tough and City played well. We didn’t but defended well as we didn’t have the ball.
“[In the] second half we were excellent in most aspects, defensively and offensively. We attacked well and probably deserved to win in the end.
“There were tactical changes [at half-time] but the biggest thing was in belief. This is not a reflection on the lads we took off but the lads we brought on made a big difference. With the ball we were a better team completely.”
Isak has been brilliant in his sophomore season in England and he was on hand yet again to slot in at the back post after a driving, powerful run and low ball from Joelinton.
After that they continued to press but also managed the game superbly to hold City at bay, despite the introduction of Phil Foden, Matheus Nunes and Jeremy Doku.
The closest the visitors came to forcing a penalty shootout was a Rico Lewis shot that he dragged past the post.