Eddie Howe warned Newcastle not to get carried away after they moved closer to the League Cup final with a 1-0 win against Southampton in Tuesday’s semi-final first leg.
Joelinton scored in the second half at St. Mary’s to put Howe’s side on the verge of their first domestic cup final since 1999.
Southampton’s Duje Caleta-Car was sent off in the closing stages when a spirited crash spilled over.
The team of Nathan Jones, bottom of the Premier League, felt bad after the VAR annulled Adam Armstrong’s equalizer for handball.
But Newcastle can book their long-awaited trip to Wembley in the second leg at St. James’ Park on January 31, with the winner facing either Manchester United or Nottingham Forest in the final.
Forest host United in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday.
However, Howe is not taking anything for granted yet.
“It’s been a good day, but there’s still a long way to go in the tie. Happy to win, that was our goal, but we know 1-0 is tricky,” Howe said.
“It was a tough game. I think both teams had their moments. Nothing is decided. We’re going back to St. James with our fans behind us.”
Admitting that Newcastle were lucky to avoid conceding Armstrong’s equaliser, Howe added: “I thought it was a goal. Very glad to see VAR kick in.”
Newcastle are enjoying a renaissance this season thanks to shrewd leadership from Howe and financial investment from the club’s Saudi-backed ownership group.
The Magpies sit third in the Premier League and are making their first domestic semi-final appearance since 2005.
Underlining Newcastle’s new confident attitude, Howe had said that simply reaching a semi-final was “not enough” as they aim to win the club’s first major domestic trophy since the 1955 FA Cup.
The Magpies’ most recent domestic cup final ended in defeat against Manchester United in the 1999 FA Cup, and their last major title was in the 1969 Inter-City Fairs Cup.
For Newcastle, this is their most promising spell since the Kevin Keegan era of the 1990s and they left the south coast having taken another step on the road back to prominence.
Joe Willock should have put Newcastle ahead within two minutes when he fired wildly after Miguel Almiron’s pass found the midfielder open in the Southampton penalty area.
– Joelinton strikes –
Willock again messed up his lines with a wayward volley after Kieran Trippier’s pinpoint cross pinpointed him at the far post.
When Willock finally fired on goal, Saints goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu made a save, and Joelinton finished from close range off the rebound disallowed by handball.
Joelinton missed a kangaroo as Almiron presented him with a glorious opportunity, somehow firing from six yards.
Che Adams nearly caught Newcastle with a punch, but the Southampton substitute fired wastefully at Nick Pope after clearing across the goal.
Pope came to Newcastle’s rescue with another important save when he deflected Adams’ shot on the turn.
“Nick has stood out this year and whenever we need him he produces the products for us,” Howe said.
Newcastle finally took the lead in the 73rd minute when substitute Alexander Isak sped away from Caleta-Car for a low cross which Joelinton finished off from close range to the delight of thousands of Newcastle fans behind goal.
Southampton thought they had equalized just two minutes later, but Armstrong’s shot from inside the box was canceled out by his handball.
It was tough for former Newcastle striker Armstrong as the ball inadvertently bounced off his arm in front of Botman as they both went for a cross.
Southampton’s frustration was clear and Caleta-Car saw the second yellow card in the 86th minute for an unnecessary push on Bruno Guimaraes.