- Newcastle defeated Manchester City 1-0 to eliminate them from the Carabao Cup
- Alexander Isak’s goal in the second half was enough to avoid Pep Guardiola’s side
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At least Pep Guardiola had a three-hour bus journey to reflect on how far his pupils have come compared to Manchester City’s leading men.
The Spaniard complained about having to travel back to Manchester by road. The road to nowhere is an apt description of their performance in the second half here.
City, without Erling Haaland and making seven changes after the weekend win over Nottingham Forest, had the lead in the first half without ever giving the impression of scoring. After halftime it just didn’t seem like there would be a goal. The boss, meanwhile, was handled by Eddie Howe’s Newcastle.
He had made 11 changes and if the plan was to quietly slip out of the competition amid the added burden of Champions League football, it all went fine after 45 minutes. City suffocated them and looked set for victory.
But a double substitution breathed new life into the Magpies and in the end, thanks to Alexander Isak’s goal in the 53rd minute, the victory was fully deserved. They were brilliant in the second period.
Alexander Isak celebrates scoring the winner to dump Manchester City out of the cup
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Rewind to kick-off and there were gale warnings on Tyneside. That didn’t apply to the game, so sedate were the early exchanges. ‘Is this the Etihad?’ 4,000 visiting fans sang in self-mockery in recognition of the half-time.
A mix-up on the team sheet listed Zack Steffen in goal for City. It was actually Stefan Ortega. But Guardiola could have put himself between the sticks and it wouldn’t have made any difference in the first half hour. City had 70 percent of the ball and that was a surprise; it felt like much more.
However, all they had to show for this was a shot from Julian Alvarez, blocked by the foot of Nick Pope. It did not help Jack Grealish’s current sharpness when, trying to make a clear run towards goal, he was caught and robbed by Paul Dummett, who last played 13 months ago.
It was that kind of match: half-fit players and managers who were perhaps less than half interested in continuing. In fact, they should have played the first half at Whitley Park, home of Newcastle’s reserves.
There was at least the intrigue of a midfield battle between England’s Kalvin Phillips and Brazil’s Joelinton. And when the latter broke through midway through the first to win possession, the ball was worked to Jacob Murphy and Newcastle registered a late goal attempt, his shot diverted with relative ease by Ortega.
It had taken 41 minutes for the home side to clear their own half and Howe responded with a double substitution at half-time. Teenagers Lewis Hall and Lewis Miley left – both making their full debuts – and Anthony Gordon and Bruno Guimaraes arrived. Newcastle immediately looked more like a team that had won 8-0 on Sunday.
Gordon got the home crowd on fire within seconds and took the man and ball with a sliding challenge for the away dugout. Guardiola did not look happy and his frown froze moments later when Isak shot past Newcastle.
The Swede’s far post finish was the easy part as the hard yards were run by Joelinton, who burst through three City jerseys before clearing the byline. St James’ didn’t sound like the muffled Etihad now.
And the home tackles, some of which escalated into fouls, just kept coming. Guardiola was furious and he and Howe exchanged words on the touchline. This was all a far cry from the funeral first half.
The City boss was eventually shown a yellow card for contesting one decision too many. He had shown more fight than his players in the second half.