Newcastle United snatched a dramatic 1-0 victory at home to Fulham on Sunday afternoon with an 89th minute winner from Alexander Isak.
Aleksandr Mitrovic was once a big-money addition to Newcastle’s frontline but squandered a golden chance to remind the Magpies of what they were missing on his return to Tyneside. Fulham’s leading scorer scuffed a calamitous second-half penalty onto his standing leg, seeing his spot-kick ruled out before Newcastle’s record arrival nodded in at the death.
Eddie Howe’s side has been rightly lauded for their league-best defensive record but their wait for a Premier League goal at the right end of the pitch dragged to six consecutive halves of top-flight football after a profligate opening 45 minutes from the hosts.
Bruno Guimaraes limped into the half-time interval in tears but before damaging his ankle the Brazilian slipped Sean Longstaff into the box with a silk-lined pass. Issa Diop hauled himself in the way, providing a block in the opening five minutes which was emblematic of the last-ditch defending Fulham were repeatedly forced into.
Diop rebuffed Callum Wilson’s shot from almost the same blade of grass and snuffed out Joe Willock’s angle for an attempt. Wilson managed to escape Diop’s clutches on the cusp of half-time but wriggling into the box before he was denied by Bernd Leno for the third time already.
Newcastle’s frustration wasn’t restricted to open play. Fabian Schar convinced Kieran Trippier to let him take a second-half set piece, bending a free kick from 25 yards out onto the base of the post.
Fulham hadn’t been afforded a sniff of Newcastle’s net before launching a pair of penalty appeals three-quarters of the way through the contest. VAR deemed Bobby Decordova-Reid’s wails worthy of a spot-kick after the fleet-footed forward lured Trippier into a stray kick.
Mitrovic, in front of the fans who once cheered him on, slipped as he connected with the penalty. The ball span into the net but Fulham’s celebrations were swiftly cut short as the goal was rightly ruled out for Mitrovic’s double-touch.
Diop was cruelly punished for a rare error right at the death of an impressive performance. Jumping underneath Longstaff’s cross, Diop failed to prevent Wilson prodding the ball across the box for Isak to nod in from close range.
GK: Nick Pope – 5/10 – Given precious little to do, even when faced with a spot kick.
RB: Kieran Trippier – 7/10 – Newcastle’s chief creative outlet, dominating the right wing as he peppered Fulham’s box with probing deliveries. Got away with a lazy boot on Decordova-Reid.
CB: Fabian Schar – 7/10 – Took a front-foot approach to win the ball back with great success.
CB: Sven Botman – 7/10 – Solid if unspectacular.
LB: Dan Burn – 5/10 – Holding a reserved position off the ball, adding an extra layer of protection to Newcastle’s rearguard.
CM: Sean Longstaff – 6/10 – Tirelessly chugging from one end of St. James’ Park to the other, offering himself as another set of black and white stripes in the opposition box.
CM: Bruno Guimaraes – 6/10 – Showed flashes of the unrivalled flair he offers before eventually giving in to an ankle injury that reduced him to tears.
CM: Joe Willock – 6/10 – Alternating roles with Joelinton down Newcastle’s fluid left flank.
RW: Miguel Almiron – 4/10 – Jinked and jostled for space which he found hard to come by.
ST: Callum Wilson – 8/10 – Wasteful when he forced his way in front of goal but kept pushing until providing the winner.
LW: Joelinton – 6/10 – Starting in spite of his drink-driving charge in midweek, Joelinton showed few signs of distraction in a typically diligent display.
Allan Saint-Maximin (46′ for Guimaraes) – 5/10 – Struggled to get up to speed with the contest.
Alexander Isak (71′ for Willock) – 7/10 – In the right place at just the right time.
Jacob Murphy (85′ for Almiron) – N/A.
Eddie Howe – 7/10 – In the end, Howe’s adventure paid off after tossing on Isak alongside Wilson flanked by Saint-Maximin and Almiron.
GK: Bernd Leno – 7/10 – Not entirely convincing with the ball at his feet but alert and alive with his gloves.
RB: Kenny Tete – 5/10 – More likely to venture forward than his opposite full-back.
CB: Issa DIop – 7/10 – On the front foot from the off, itching to heave his significant frame in the way of the ball.
CB: Tim Ream – 6/10 – Did his best to stick touch-tight to Wilson wherever he strayed.
LB: Layvin Kurzawa – 5/10 – Kept his passing safe and simple but wasn’t quite as accurate with his tackles.
CM: Harrison Reed – 6/10 – Tasked with covering a prodigious amount of ground, charging forward to support Fulham’s attacks and scurrying back alongside Joao Palhinha otherwise.
CM: Joao Palhinha – 6/10 – Repeatedly snatched possession back for Fulham but showed little care once he was on the ball.
AM: Andreas Pereira – 5/10 – Struggled to exert a significant influence on proceedings.
RW: Willian – 4/10 – Skirted around the fringes of the game.
ST: Aleksandr Mitrovic – 3/10 – The lowlight of an anonymous display will litter blooper reels for seasons to come.
LW: Bobby Decordova-Reid – 6/10 – Showed excellent slight of foot to win the second-half spot-kick.
Tosin Adarabioyo (78′ for Willian) – 5/10
Dan James (78′ for Pereira) – 5/10
Carlos Vinicius (90+2′ for Diop) – N/A
Tom Cairney (90+2′ for Reed) – N/A
Harry Wilson (90+2′ for Decordova-Reid) – N/A
Marco Silva – 4/10 – Aside from Mitrovic’s erroneous penalty, Fulham didn’t create anywhere near enough to warrant a goal and were eventually made to pay for their passive approach.
Player of the match – Callum Wilson (Newcastle)
Player ratings as single Ake goals knocks Gunners out of FA Cup
Manchester City knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup at the Etihad Stadium as the fourth round kicked off on Friday night, with Nathan Ake the unexpected star of the show with the only goal.
The Gunners made a bright start and right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu stung the palms of City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega after only a few minutes. Leandro Trossard was the architect of a few moves down the left in those early stages, exposing City’s preference to have right-back Rico Lewis operate as an auxiliary central midfielder.
The hosts caught their first sight of goal courtesy of a loose ball that threatened to let Erling Haaland in. Matt Turner was quick to rush out, but as the ball popped up into the air, Haaland attempted the acrobatic – think Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs England in 2012 – but Tomiyasu dropped back onto the line.
Midway through the first half, Ortega’s strong left hand stopped Trossard putting Arsenal ahead after the £27m Belgian drove in-field from his flank. City had their own chance from a Belgian soon after when Kevin De Bruyne whipped a left-footed shot just wide of the far post.
Trossard made another Arsenal chance when he put a teasing cross into Eddie Nketiah at the near post, with the in-form striker sending his flick just wide. It didn’t really feel like an action-packed first half, yet the opportunities kept coming as Haaland missed the target under pressure from Gabriel.
Trossard aside, none of the big players on either side had particularly stood out in the first 45 – the likes of Haaland, De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Bukayo Saka had all be disappointingly quiet.
Given that, it was perhaps fitting that the eventual breakthrough came from an unlikely source. Substitute Julian Alvarez changed things by taking on a shot from distance that rebounded off the post. Jack Grealish recycled it and found left-back Ake, who passed the ball into the far corner of the goal like a seasoned striker.
Both managers made numerous changes to try and shift the balance of the game in their favour as the minutes ticked away. It achieved little as far as the spectacle was concerned, breaking up any potential for a bit of rhythm or momentum.
City dug in in the closing stages, squeezing Arsenal out whenever the Gunners threatened to make something happen in or around the box – in particular Ortega made a couple of vital smothers when Arsenal sub Gabriel Martinelli injected some pace for the hosts.
GK: Stefan Ortega – 8/10 – Needed to make saves from the start, keeping City in it when Arsenal were arguably stronger in the first half. Stayed strong throughout and never looked as though he was going to be beaten.
RB: Rico Lewis – 6/10 – Spent a lot of time in the middle of the pitch as per instructions from his manager. Clearly a good player but it gave Trossard too much space, albeit not his fault.
CB: John Stones – 5/10 – Often looked vulnerable because of how Lewis was playing. A suspected hamstring injury then ended his night before half-time.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 7/10 – Had to switch positions after Stones was taken off but put in a dominant performance regardless.
LB: Nathan Ake – 8/10 – Finished with great composure to put his team ahead and put in a solid defensive shift as well, with Saka hardly given a sniff.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne – 5/10 – Narrowly missed with a great curling effort in the first half and slightly improved after half-time but was far from his best.
CM: Rodri – 5/10 – Unusually sloppy with the ball by his standards.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 6/10 – Did both sides of the ball pretty well but not always on the same page as the forwards ahead of him.
RW: Riyad Mahrez – 4/10 – Not really himself. Didn’t have enough of the ball to make any real impact and was withdrawn before an hour had passed.
ST: Erling Haaland – 5/10 – Attempted the spectacular early on and also took a whack to the back of the head before half-time. Didn’t get his usual quality service.
LW: Jack Grealish – 6/10 – Gets an assist for his layoff to Ake and City’s best forward on the night.
SUB: Aymeric Laporte (45+4′ for Stones) – 7/10
SUB: Julian Alvarez (58′ for Mahrez) – 7/10
SUB: Kyle Walker (58′ for Lewis) – 7/10
SUB: Bernardo Silva (75′ for De Bruyne) – 6/10
Pep Guardiola – 7/10 – The way he set up the team didn’t make sense when Trossard kept causing problems down City’s right. Changed shape early in the second half and the substitutes definitely did make a positive impact overall.
GK: Matt Turner – 6/10 – Stood little chance with the only goal. Always keen to come for crosses or rush off his line.
RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 6/10 – Had the first early chance with a good foray forward.
CB: Rob Holding – 5/10 – Got physical with Haaland and took a yellow card for it with 50 minutes still left to play. The danger of getting another saw him removed at half-time.
CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – Did enough to put Haaland off in a key moment.
LB: Kieran Tierney – 6/10 – Would have expected a tougher test from Mahrez. Didn’t offer much going forward to take advantage of that.
CM: Fabio Vieira – 5/10 – Had one shot that missed the target and didn’t do enough otherwise.
CM: Thomas Partey – 5/10 – Didn’t stand out and was surprisingly replaced at half-time.
CM: Granit Xhaka – 6/10 – Successful in stopping City play their usual sparkling game, although a couple of hesitations in key moments were almost costly.
RW: Bukayo Saka – 4/10 – Just 23 touches of the ball tells its own story.
ST: Eddie Nketiah – 5/10 – Couldn’t find the target with a chance in thef first half. The service wasn’t there for him and he touched the ball only slightly more than Saka.
LW: Leandro Trossard – 7/10 – Gave City real trouble from the start and created a number of chances in the first half. Much quieter after the break.
SUB: William Saliba (46′ for Holding) – 6/10
SUB: Albert Sambi Lokonga (46′ for Partey) – 6/10
SUB: Gabriel Martinelli (66′ for Trossard) – 7/10
SUB: Oleksandr Zinchenko (66′ for Tierney) – 6/10
SUB: Martin Odegaard (74′ for Saka) – 5/10
Mikel Arteta – 6/10 – Took no risks with Holding on a yellow card and later responded to going behind by making chances immediately. Couldn’t get one over on his old mentor.
Player of the match – Nathan Ake (Man City)
Wolves finally set to sign Brazilian talent from Flamengo
Wolves are finally set to conclude the signing of Joao Gomes after winning their stand-off with Flamengo, sources have confirmed to 90min.
90min revealed earlier in January that Wolves had agreed terms with Flamengo, but at the point of exchanging contracts the Brazilian club did not return documents at their end.
Wolves then struggled to communicate with Flamengo and it emerged that talks had begun with French side Lyon, who made a bid worth €19m (£16.7m) – that was €2m more than Wolves offered.
However, despite Lyon’s determination to persuade Gomes otherwise, the player refused to move to France. Instead, he insisted he wanted to move to the Premier League and even new Lyon owner John Textor made a personal trip to try and convince him to no avail.
Now, after accepting the Lyon move won’t happen, Flamengo have greenlighted the Wolves deal and given permission for Gomes to join them. The transfer is on course to be finalised over the weekend.
On this edition of Talking Transfers, Scott Saunders hosts Toby Cudworth & Graeme Bailey to discuss some of the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more! If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!
Kieran Trippier signs new Newcastle contract
Kieran Trippier has committed his future to Newcastle with a new two-and-a-half-year contract.
The 32-year-old England international was the first signing made by Newcastle following the Saudi Arabia-backed takeover, joining from Aletico Madrid in a £15m deal in January 2022.
Trippier’s previous deal was due to expire in 2024 but he is now tied to the club until 2025.
After putting pen to paper, Trippier said: “I’m absolutely delighted that I’ve extended my contract here. I’ve got a lot of thank yous to make to the manager, owners, fans and my team-mates.
“When I first arrived here, they made me feel so welcome and I want to help the club achieve great things. It’s a positive moment for us players in the club and there’s no place I’d rather be.”
Newcastle United head coach, Eddie Howe, added: “It’s a fitting reward for the season he’s had. He’s been outstanding both on and off the pitch, showing real leadership at a difficult moment when he first arrived, and now he’s excelled in a team that’s doing well.
“I can’t praise him enough for everything he’s given the club.”
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