The whistle goes, and Newcastle are 90 minutes away from Wembley and their first League Cup final since 1976!
90 min +5: Isak is crudely checked by Salisu, who goes into the book. Then there’s the treat of another melee, which quickly dies down. Fair to say the second leg is going to be a feisty one. The second half of this one certainly was.
90 min +4: On Sky Sports, Don Goodman names Bruno Guimaraes as his man of the match. It’s hard to argue with that verdict. Meanwhile Saint-Maximin tries to beat Bazunu from 50 yards, only for his shot to hit the back of Lyanco. Then there’s another attack, which ends with Isak rounding Bazunu on the right only to flutter the side netting.
90 min +3: Pretty much as you’d expect, the Newcastle fans are in party mode. The Blaydon Races booming out from their corner of the stadium. Several of their fans have also gone topless. It’s minus three degrees centigrade.
90 min +2: Murphy lashes a shot into the side netting from a tight angle on the right. He had Isak free at the far stick.
90 min: There should be plenty of added time given VAR this and brouhaha that … and the board goes up for five extra minutes.
88 min: Bednarek replaces Walker-Peters. Then Trippier looks to rake the resulting free kick into the top right from 25 yards, but can’t keep the shot down. Caleta-Car may well have saved Southampton conceding a second goal there, because Saint-Maximin had been in flight with shooting very much in mind.
87 min: There’s another brief melee, and Guimaraes is booked for his contribution. Then, as Caleta-Car departs, Murphy sarcastically waves goodbye in the Saints defender’s face. Caleta-Car briefly considers throwing hands, but sensibly ignores Murphy and disappears down the tunnel instead, limiting the disciplinary damage.
86 min: Saint-Maximin dribbles with pace down the middle. He drops a shoulder to get past Caleta-Car with ease. He hangs out a leg, and a second yellow is inevitable.
85 min: … then Trippier balloons an uncharacteristically witless free kick straight into the arms of Bazunu.
84 min: Guimaraes powers his way down the middle and is half-dragged back by Lyanco. Guimaraes, on the floor, is shoved in the chest by Lyanco. Guimaraes isn’t happy, and the pair square up. For a second, it looks like it’s going to kick off big-style, especially when Saint-Maximin arrives to shove Lynaco, but it all calms down quickly enough. Lyanco and Saint-Maximin go into the book.
82 min: Diallo makes way for Lavia. Then the game restarts, and Bazunu’s pass upfield is charged down by Murphy. The Saints keeper is relieved to see the rebound ping harmlessly wide left of the goal and out for a goal kick.
80 min: St Mary’s erupted when Armstrong forced that ball into the Newcastle net. It’s a fairly quiet place right now. The away fans being the exception, of course, and they’re giving it the full Que Sera Sera treatment. They’re only one game and ten minutes plus stoppages away from Wembley, after all.
78 min: Armstrong, who thought he had a goal in a major semi-final against his boyhood club, looks utterly deflated. Meanwhile Newcastle, their lead maintained, replace Almiron with Murphy.
… but VAR gets involved. Edozie’s cross was scuff-kicked by Armstrong, came off Burns’ thigh, up onto Armstrong’s right hand, back onto Burns’ knee and in. No goal.
An almost immediate response by the Saints! A cross comes looping into the Newcastle box from the right. Adams flicks a header on to Edozie, who dinks it back infield. Armstrong beats Burn to the ball, and bundles it into the bottom-left corner of the net! A slight deflection meant Pope was wrong-footed. Saints level!
He’s had one unluckily disallowed. He’s missed an absolute sitter. But now he’s on the scoresheet! Isak, tight on the right touchline, diddles Caleta-Car with absurd ease, dropping a shoulder to tear clear. He whistles a low cross into the six-yard box. Joelinton makes no mistake this time, and whips home from close range!
72 min: The free kick leads to a corner which is claimed by Pope. He sets Newcastle off on the counter. Burn crosses low from the left. He kind of scuffs it, but the ball drops to Longstaff, who attempts to score with a backflick from six yards. He doesn’t connect.
70 min: Down the left, Edozie drops a shoulder to get past Trippier again with absurd ease. A booking for the Newcastle man, who faces a long 20 minutes against a young talent who has already skinned him twice.
69 min: “If Newcastle could hit the side of a barn, this would be done and dusted,” argues Joe Pearson. Yep, it’s becoming a minor issue for Eddie Howe’s team, who have only scored four times in their last six matches. With this in mind, Newcastle replace Wilson and Willock with Isak and Saint-Maximin.
67 min: Ward-Prowse curls the free kick into the mixer. The ball drops to Adams, who spins, ten yards out, and fires a shot towards the bottom right. Fine shot, but an even better save by Pope, who blocks. Armstrong can’t force the rebound home from a tight angle, then the ball breaks to Lyanco on the edge of the box. Over the bar the ball flies. This is so much better from the Saints.
66 min: Walker-Peters has sprung into life during the past ten minutes or so. He drives down the right and teases Botman into fouling him. Saints line up on the edge of the box. Ward-Prowse – who else? – to take.
64 min: Adams is sent scampering into acres of space down the left, chasing a long sliderule pass from Armstrong. He’s clear! Pope thinks about coming but stays. Adams fizzes towards the bottom right, but is denied by Pope’s strong outstretched leg. What a chance! What a save!
62 min: Walker-Peters drives down the right and crosses for Ward-Prowse, who becomes the next player to try a Mark Hughes Special. It flies harmlessly over the bar, but the ball was slightly behind him and the bicycle kick had a difficulty tariff of 5.8.
60 min: Edozie skips past Trippier with ease, but after making some good ground down the left, plays a poor ball infield to nobody in particular. Still, his nifty skill to see off Trippier got the crowd going. “Joelinton reminded me of …” It’s Jeff Sax, everyone. As founder of the Darwin Nunez Fan Club, he need tell us no more.
59 min: Walker-Peters dribbles down the right and, just before entering the box, is eased off the ball by Willock. Saints demand a penalty; they don’t even get a free kick. That looked the correct decision.
58 min: Saints make a couple of changes, replacing Orsic and Mara with Adams and Edozie.
57 min: Armstrong bustles across the face of the Newcastle box, right to left, before hoicking a half-decent shot high and wide. A good response to that burst of serious pressure from Newcastle.
56 min: … so having said that, Saints respond. Mara’s presence forces Schar into the concession of a corner on the right. From the set piece, Mara then nearly guides the ball into the bottom right, but Pope gathers calmly.
54 min: Newcastle are cranking up the pressure, though. Almiron worms his way down the right again, and sends another dangerous ball across the face of goal. Bazunu gets a hand to palm it away, but only to Botman, coming in from the left flank. Botman can only force the ball into the side netting. Saints hanging on a bit here.
53 min: Newcastle should be leading. Almiron one-twos with Longstaff and enters the Saints box from the right. Almiron whistles a low cross towards Joelinton, six yards out. The keeper nowhere. Joelinton has to send the net bulging, but he leans back and sends an out-of-control screamer over the bar. How did he miss?! A couple of very slight deflections as the cross came towards him, maybe, but even then there’s no excuse of missing an open goal from there.
52 min: Willock attempts to outpace Salisu down the left. He doesn’t win the race. Then Almiron tries the same thing on the right, but can’t beat Walker-Peters.
50 min: Armstrong knocks the ball cutely past Guimaraes and Botman down the right, entering the Newcastle box. Armstrong’s cross is blocked by Joelinton, but sits up for Mara, who attempts a Mark Hughes-esque bicycle kick towards the top left. It’s high and wide, but not by an unreasonable distance, and he also gets full marks for ambition.
49 min: Otherwise, it’s been a bit scrappy since the restart.
47 min: Armstrong robs Burn down the Saints right. His cross is dangerous but Newcastle deal with it well and counter. Almiron powers his way down the left, holding off Salisu all the way. He cuts back for Longstaff, who makes like Willock and converts a wild shot for three rugby points. That’s three very similar chances Newcastle have created this evening, but they haven’t worked the keeper with any of them.
Saints get the second half underway. No changes.
Sky Sports have shown the disallowed goal from several angles. Seems it was ruled out on the pitch for a Joelinton handball; however, from one of those angles, the ball seemed to hit the Newcastle forward on the side of his body only. Really quite dangerously close to his left arm, mind, which is probably why VAR didn’t feel confident enough to overturn the decision. While that might annoy Newcastle, there’s some balance in the referee’s view of Pope’s clatter into Djenepo, which a less kindly official may have deemed out of control. Both teams have got away with one, then … although nobody knows anything any more, and you could easily make a case for the exact opposite. Gotta love sports!
Half-time entertainment. Of course, this game could end 7-7, and it still wouldn’t, simply couldn’t, win the award for Cup Tie of the Week. Oh Aberdeen!
An entertaining, high-octane half comes to an end. Not a whole lot of end product, though, with both keepers making just one save each. Newcastle did have the ball in the net, mind. “Our announcers say the goal was disallowed for a Joelinton handball,” reports Joe Pearson from over the pond.
45 min +6: There didn’t look to be any malicious intent in Pope’s challenge on Djenepo. His eyes were fixed on the ball, which he got to first and headed powerfully clear. But you could make the case that his actions were inevitably going to put Djenepo in danger. He may feel relieved to have escaped censure.
45 min +4: As for the resulting free kick … well, there wasn’t one. Turns out the referee only awarded a throw. Armstrong is a concussion substitution, by the way.
45 min +3: Djenepo, eyes glazed, is helped off the park by two members of the Saints backroom team. He disappears gingerly down the tunnel. Adam Armstrong comes on in his stead.
45 min +2: The first two of the four added minutes are taken up with the physio looking after a very dazed Djenepo.
45 min: A long ball down the Southampton right. Djenepo chases after it. Pope races out of his box and wins a header, but properly clatters poor Djenepo in doing so. Just a free kick, nothing more, a yard or so outside the box on the right. There will be four added minutes.
44 min: Or did the ball ping off Joelinton’s arm just before he slotted the disallowed goal? They’ve shown a few replays of the incident, and nothing egregious sticks out. Opinions will be available for free on the internet.
42 min: Alcaraz sends a vicious low swerving shot straight at Pope from distance. Pope very nearly dives past it, but corrects himself just in time to turn the ball round the right-hand post. Nothing comes of the resulting corner. Both keepers have been put to work now all right!
40 min: The referee clearly thinks Wilson fouled Salisu. VAR checks, and doesn’t change his mind for him. But that looked pretty harsh on Wilson, who came together in a 50-50 with Salisu. It wasn’t a clear and obvious error, though, so the onfield decision stands.
39 min: Neither keeper has had anything significant to do … until now! Willock cuts in from the left and shoots low and hard. Bazunu parries brilliantly, but can only palm into the road of Wilson, who prepares to slam home only to be denied by Salisu’s brave block. The ball now breaks to Joelinton, who whips home from close range. But the whistle goes immediately. No goal!
37 min: More frustration on display, this time by Guimaraes, who is livid that a Newcastle counter is stopped when Alcaraz lightly rugby tackles him around the waist. The Saints debutant goes into the book.