It may not be known until February how important Nick Pope’s penalty shootout saves are for Newcastle.
But this was a very good night to stay in the English League Cup for a team looking to make a statement with a trophy.
High-flying Newcastle in the Premier League looked in danger of joining a string of top teams to be knocked out of the competition on Wednesday, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham losing in the third round.
West Ham were also beaten by Blackburn on penalties after a 2–2 draw, to increase the number of top division teams exiting.
Defending champions Liverpool narrowly avoided joining them, eventually knocking out League One club Derby in a penalty shootout after a 0–0 draw at Anfield.
It was a night where the competition was thrown wide open for those who made it to the fourth round.
That’s why Pope’s save to deny Crystal Palace’s Malcolm Ebiowei could prove so crucial to Newcastle’s campaign.
While the Saudi-backed club have been one of the stories of the season so far, rising to third in the table just a year after being in serious danger of relegation, their wait for a major trophy dates back to 1969. .
How their fans would enjoy the trophies, even if Champions League qualification is the priority this season.
Not even the all-time leading goalscorer, Alan Shearer, could lead his boyhood club to a trophy when he last made a big push to join European football’s elite in the 1990s.
So it would be a huge statement if GM Eddie Howe manages to end that long wait.
Pope made three saves in the penalty shootout to secure a 3-2 penalty shootout victory that will see Newcastle one of the favorites to reach the final on 26 February.
“It’s exciting for everyone at the end, not good for our health though, but happy to get through,” Howe said. “We wanted to win to keep that momentum going and we want to go as far as possible in the cup.”
Whichever team lifts the trophy is likely to have to beat Manchester City after they beat Chelsea 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
The Premier League champions have dominated the competition in recent years, winning it six times in the last nine seasons.
Goals from Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez sent Chelsea to a third defeat in four games.
The honeymoon appears to be over for manager Graham Potter, whose side have only won two of the last seven games, both in the Champions League.
The biggest shock of the night came at the Emirates, where Potter’s former team Brighton bounced back from a 1-0 loss against Premier League leaders Arsenal to win 3-1.
Danny Welbeck, Kaoru Mitoma and Tariq Lamptey scored after Eddie Nketiah opened the scoring.
It was a good night for the bottom three Premier League clubs, with Forest beating Tottenham 2-0, Wolves winning 1-0 against Leeds and Southampton losing 6-5 on penalties after drawing 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday.
Phillips England Boost
Kalvin Phillips gave England head coach Gareth Southgate a boost ahead of the World Cup, 50 minutes into City’s win against Chelsea.
The midfielder has not played since he underwent shoulder surgery in September.
He is expected to be named in Southgate’s squad for Qatar, to be announced on Thursday.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed that he will remain at the club after owner Fenway Sports confirmed that he was willing to sell his shares.
“What I read is that they are looking for investment,” said the German. “Good idea, I like it. … It doesn’t mean anything to me, whatever happens, if it changes, I’m committed to the club.”
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte allayed concerns after Harry Kane was substituted after 59 minutes against Forest, revealing that he was pulled due to “fatigue”.
“It’s normal,” he said. “Harry has played every game.”