Newcastle United advanced to the fifth round of the FA Cup thanks to a 2-0 win against Fulham on Saturday. The victory, earned with goals scored by two Geordies—Sean Longstaff and Dan Burn—couldn’t have come at a better time considering Newcastle’s struggles in the Premier League and on the financial front while having to deal with many injuries and facing a daunting second half of the season.
Eddie Howe, talking to media members after the game was over, sounded relieved by saying “It was an excellent result,” but adding it was “not our finest performance.”
Said Howe: ”We had to be really resilient, and (we) scored at an important moment before half-time. That settled us down, we were much better in that period with a counterattack threat and much improved.”
Newcastle’s first goal came in the 39th minute when Longstaff capitalized on a play happening in Fulham’s penalty area following a corner kick. The goal went for a VAR check for a potential handball by Bruno Guimaraes but was ultimately confirmed and given to the Magpies, who took a lead they would never surrender. Fulham manager Marco Silva and goalkeeper Marek Rodak expressed their disagreement with the VAR decision, but in fairness, it’s hard to argue against the review outcome.
In the second half, Newcastle adopted a counterattacking approach they looked pleased to play given the spaces left on the back by Fulham once they lost possession of the ball. This led to the second goal of the Magpies in the 60th minute when Burn scored from close range after a cross from captain Kieran Trippier.
This win marked only the second time in 18 years that Newcastle have reached the Round of 16 of the FA Cup, which is as silly as it sounds but also lets you know about how incredibly badly the club was run by former NUFC owner Mike Ashley.
Howe acknowledged the importance of the result, stating, “It was a big result for us, because this is our last chance of silverware this season. There was an expectation internally to give everything to get through. We weren’t at our most fluent and I was frustrated in the first half. But we showed resilience and character and improved as the game went on. But it doesn’t matter how you perform, you just need to be in the next round. I hope this gives our season more legs.”
Newcastle’s next fixture is a Premier League match at Villa Park. The first time they met earlier this season, all the way back in mid-August, the Magpies destroyed Unai Emery’s team beating them 5-1 at St James’ Park. Things have changed a lot, however, with Villa sitting in fourth and Newcastle currently 10th in the EPL table.
Best news? The season (probably) can only get better.