Newcastle’s Wembley dream fulfilled with historic Carabao Cup final

Newcastle’s Wembley dream fulfilled with historic Carabao Cup final
Newcastle United's English midfielder Jacob Murphy celebrates at the end of the English League Cup semi final football match between Newcastle United and Southampton where his team won 2-1. (File/AFP)
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Updated 20 February 2023

Newcastle’s Wembley dream fulfilled with historic Carabao Cup final

Newcastle’s Wembley dream fulfilled with historic Carabao Cup final
  • Geordie Sean Longstaff was the local hero with 2 goals
  • Magpies likely to face surging Man United on Feb. 26

NEWCASTLE, UK: Tell me ma, me ma, they won’t be home for tea — Newcastle United are going to Wembley.

For the first time in 23 years the Magpies are heading to the home of English football and it was the iconic chant, to the tune of Doris Day’s classic “Que Sera Sera,” that rung around the streets and bars of Tyneside for the first time this century.

Geordie Sean Longstaff proved United’s local hero as his two goals put United 3-0 in front over the two legs, before Che Adams got a consolation. Bruno Guimaraes was sent off late for the Magpies, however they hung on to secure a Carabao Cup date with destiny on Sunday, Feb. 26. Facing them is likely to be Manchester United, who take on Nottingham Forest in their second leg on Wednesday with a 3-0 advantage in the bank.

“I feel really good. Very proud of the players and everyone connected with the club. A great night for us,” said head coach Eddie Howe.

“I thought it was one of the best 20-minute spells we’ve seen. The rest of the game was difficult but really pleased with the start to the match.

“You speak to people and there is a lot of people at the football club that have been here a long time so you get an idea of what it means. From my perspective, you’re so focused on the details of how we’re going to play and what we’re going to do, you can’t take your eye off that for a second so you shelter yourself from some of the feeling around the city. I think it’s nice to know and see how much it means. The view of the stadium again tonight with the flags and scarves made it an incredible place to play football.”

Very much in keeping with their Premier League form, the Magpies got off to a flyer — and it was Tyneside born and bred Longstaff who packed his shooting boots on the night.

He bagged two goals in the space of 16 first-half minutes and but for a swing and a miss, could have netted the Magpies’ first hat trick in the competition since Craig Bellamy in 2001.

His first came when a Guimaraes turn on the edge of the area freed skipper Kieran Trippier on the right and a deft ball into the midfielder was tucked home with a class so often missing from Longstaff’s wayward finishing this season.

Just moments later he almost made it 2-0 as a lash with his left foot skidded narrowly wide. He was in no mood to let the Saints off the hook, though, and did double the advantage on 20 minutes when he finished a slick passing move.

A rapid break down the left by Joe Willock saw Miguel Almiron fed in the middle and a cutback fell kindly for Longstaff, who smashed into the Gallowgate End net. The stuff dreams are made of for the lad from North Shields.

This wouldn’t be Newcastle United without a scare or two, though. And despite seemingly cruising at 3-0 up in the tie — having won 1-0 down on the south coast — they opened the door for the opposition.

A Willock error gifted possession to Che Adams and with one stroke of his right peg from distance he narrowed the difference between the sides.

Despite being two goals to the good nerves began to emanate from the pitch and into the terraces as the visitors pressed, pressed and pressed some more.

Nick Pope, a spectator largely to this point, had to be at his broad, sprawling best to deny former United forward Adam Armstrong.

Hanging on, but still looking dangerous on the break, United had a penalty call turned down when a Sven Botman header seemingly hit a Saints arm in the area before Longstaff almost finished it with a long-range effort, saved by Gavin Bazunu.

Having clipped the outside of the post with a left-footed curler, Bruno then had a moment of madness, which did little for nerves on the night.

The Brazilian was red-carded for a late lunge on Samuel Edozie, which was rightfully turned from a yellow into a red with the help of VAR.

Despite the late scare, United held on. And luckily for the team, Howe and Guimaraes, his instant three-game ban will be up by the time the trip to London comes around later this month.

Howe continued: “At the moment this doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s about the club it’s not about me. I’m proud to get to the final but my thought is always for the club.

“The challenge comes in the next few days with preparing for West Ham. We need to get back to work and not let this impact our league form.

“You’re always on to the next challenge.

“I’ve enjoyed tonight in a weird way but when you sit back and relax you come undone. You’re always on edge looking to win the next game.”

Precociously talented Foden grateful to be part of Manchester City’s domination

Precociously talented Foden grateful to be part of Manchester City’s domination
Updated 21 March 2023

Precociously talented Foden grateful to be part of Manchester City’s domination

Precociously talented Foden grateful to be part of Manchester City’s domination
  • The 22-year-old England international already has four Premier League titles, an FA Cup medal, four League Cup medals and back-to-back Young Player of the Year awards to his name

“Sky is the limit” reads the tattoo that stretches from Phil Foden’s left ear down to the bottom of his neck. He had it done just over a year ago, after scoring a crucial late winner for Manchester City against Everton in the Premier League.

The words reflect the mindset of the precociously talented player, whose lofty ambitions are far from sated. Since making his first-team debut at the age of 17 in 2017, as a substitute in a 1-0 Champions League victory over Feyenoord, Foden has reveled in the spotlight.

Now 22, he already has a packed trophy cabinet that includes four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four League Cup winners’ medals and back-to-back Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year awards.

“All the time I think about what has happened, what I’ve achieved, I’m just grateful to be where I am now,” Stockport-born Foden told Arab News during an exclusive interview. “I always look at that and it’s crazy because it’s gone so quick.”

Foden says he has enjoyed every moment of his career so far and just wants to keep on enjoying it as much as possible.

“I came from a rough area and not many people make it from my area,” he said. “So to come out of that and see what I’ve done, I’m obviously proud of that.”

But he wants more. And in his pursuit of that, he demands more of himself.

“It’s so special to be part of this City team,” said Foden, who has been with the club since he was nine years old. He was even a ball boy.

“Hopefully, in years to come, I can talk about my experience to my young kids and tell them how it was. Hopefully I can be remembered as a legend here when I finish, hopefully get a statue … I want that, definitely,” he adds with a beaming smile.

“For now, I’m just enjoying every moment.”

There are three statues at the Etihad Stadium already, honoring former captain Vincent Kompany, club-record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, and Foden’s idol, David Silva, the Spanish attacking midfielder they called “Merlin.”

It is now Foden who provides the magic, a role he accepts with relish while displaying a growing maturity and willingness to take on greater responsibility in a team packed with world-class players.

He is the boy who dared to dream and achieved his goal of playing for his beloved club, where the supporters now laud him as “one of our own.”

Feted for performances for club and country that are reminiscent of former Newcastle, Tottenham Hotspur and England hero Paul Gascoigne, with the ability to excite and excel in attack, there is a lot of pressure resting on Foden’s young shoulders.

“I think there are expectations, definitely, because I’ve set my standards so high in the last few seasons,” he said.

“People expect me to be the game-changer now and I don’t mind that … you know,” Foden said. “I want to be that person who scores and decides a game. I thrive on it; it makes me better and I like the pressure. It’s definitely hard to keep level-headed but I felt I’ve dealt with that pretty well over the time.

“I’ve always tried to put the hard work in training as much as I possibly can to get the rewards. That’s the mentality I have and will just keep trying to do that.”

Foden has returned to fitness and form following the World Cup in Qatar, during which England were beaten in the quarter-finals by France. Manager Gareth Southgate’s squad this week begin another quest for a first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup, with Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine on Thursday and Sunday.

Passionate about the game, Foden hopes to display his top qualities for both club and country in the remaining three months of the season.

“It’s stressful not playing, of course — the manager knows that, with all the players that we have got who just love playing football,” he said. “We are all, just in the changing room at City, two-touch or whatever we are doing, (we) just love to play football.

“Like Bernardo Silva, for example, in the game against Newcastle (on March 4). He didn’t start but when he came on, he made the difference with the second goal. I feel that’s the group we are building now. We all have each other’s back and work for each other.”

With their lives under ever-greater scrutiny, trying to remain level-headed can be hard for young footballers in the modern era.

Foden, however, is already the father of two young children and said: “I think it’s helped me, yes, being a dad, (it has) kept me focused on football.

“It’s always nice, if things don’t go right on the football pitch, you can go home, see your kids and everything gets back to normal. So it’s definitely kept me grounded.”

At the same time, his family also provide a great inspiration for him to continue to strive to reach ever-greater heights, he said.

City are sitting second in the Premier League, eight points behind Arsenal, and thrashed Burnley 6-0 on Saturday to book their spot in the FA Cup semi-finals, in which they will face Championship side Sheffield United at Wembley on April 22.

The Champions League is the one trophy that has eluded Foden, and City, so far, with a 1-0 defeat by Chelsea in the 2021 final the closest they have come. That loss was painful, as was a foot injury later that summer that ruled Foden out of the delayed Euro 2020 final in which England lost to Italy on penalties. There were some tears, he admitted.

“I don’t like to show it but, definitely, behind the scenes there are emotional times,” he said.

Having been drawn against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of this season’s Champions League, and with the prospect of facing holders Real Madrid or Chelsea in the last four, City have another tough task ahead of them this season if they are to claim the biggest prize in European club football.

Foden, whose game has evolved under Pep Guardiola, with roles across the forward line, said: “I hope it’s this year. Definitely, the Champions League is the one we are all looking at now.

“We want to take a step further. We have been in a final and obviously it was heartbreaking to lose. Hopefully, if we can get there again we can use the defeat in the final, and the experience of winning the Premier League and other cups, to help us through it.”

Whatever happens, Foden said it “feels special” to be part of City’s trophy hunt.

“I’m still such a young player and the more big games you play the better you learn to deal with them,” he said.

“I think I’m becoming more mature as a player, and in the game I feel I can play a lot more different positions. I think I could before but now I understand them a bit more.”

As he learns to combine greater knowledge with his evolving natural ability, the sky truly is the limit for what Foden might yet achieve.

Germany hopes to repair reputation before hosting Euro 2024

Germany hopes to repair reputation before hosting Euro 2024
Updated 21 March 2023

Germany hopes to repair reputation before hosting Euro 2024

Germany hopes to repair reputation before hosting Euro 2024
  • The campaign starts this week with friendly games against Peru in Mainz on Saturday, then Belgium in Cologne three days later

BERLIN: With the European Championship looming next year, host Germany hopes this week to start repairing the tattered reputation of its men’s national soccer team.

Two World Cup flops and a poor showing in between have taken their toll on what was a proud heritage for Germany. The four-time World Cup winner no longer strikes fear among opponents.

The German Soccer Federation wants to change that before the country hosts Euro 2024. It’s an opportunity to restore lost pride, albeit with the potential for more embarrassment.

The campaign starts this week with friendly games against Peru in Mainz on Saturday, then Belgium in Cologne three days later.

The federation has given coach Hansi Flick another chance to lead the team after its first-round exit at the 2022 World Cup. It also brought in former Germany striker and coach Rudi Voller as sporting director to oversee what it hopes will be a successful shakeup.

Another one.

Former coach Joachim Low attempted a shakeup after Germany’s first-round exit at the 2018 World Cup, then ditched it after a 6-0 drubbing by Spain when he recalled veterans Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels for the coronavirus-delayed Euro 2020 tournament. It only got his team as far as the second round, where England ended Low’s 15-year stint in charge.

Flick is banking on more success with the latest focus on youth, building his squad on a foundation of talented but untested under-21 players. Flick has called up six debutants for the games against Peru and Belgium, while leaving out established regulars like Muller, Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan, Antonio Rüdiger and Marco Reus among others.

“We’ve taken this path to see which players have the potential to be at the European Championship next year,” Flick said.

Bayer Leverkusen’s 19-year-old attacking midfielder Florian Wirtz is the German team’s new star, particularly with Bayern Munich’s 20-year-old Jamal Musiala ruled out of the upcoming games through injury. Both were already established players for the senior team, though Wirtz missed the World Cup last November with a knee injury.

Perhaps to underline Germany’s new faith in its youth setup, under-21 coach Antonio Di Salvo appeared alongside Flick and Voller at Monday’s press conference.

Di Salvo is preparing his team for the Under-21 European Championship in Georgia and Romania this summer, but said he was happy to see players like AC Milan defender Malick Thiaw get their chance with Flick’s senior team.

“It’s an honor for the players. It’s also an honor for all the coaches involved along the way from the club to the under-21 team,” Di Salvo said.

Voller also stressed the importance of Germany’s underage sides.

“I myself am a child of the under-21 team,” said Völler, whose goals helped West Germany win the World Cup in 1990.

The now 62-year-old Voller said Germany’s success at the 1982 Under-21 European Championship, where his team reached the final, laid the foundation for the 1990 World Cup win. He also referred to 2009 European champions Manuel Neuer, Sami Khedira, Benedikt Höwedes, Mesut Özil and others helping Germany win the World Cup in 2014.

“That’s the basis for us,” said Voller, who said all the players in Flick and Di Salvo’s teams had the chance to play for Germany at Euro 2024.

“It’s fortunate we have this wonderful European Championship here next year. It’s important for every player and it shows the young players, especially those who are there, how lovely it is to have such a big tournament in your own country,” Völler said. “Every tournament is hugely important and it brings you forward. But to have a tournament in your own country is something special.”

Ancelotti: ‘We did not deserve to lose’ El Clasico

Ancelotti: ‘We did not deserve to lose’ El Clasico
Updated 20 March 2023

Ancelotti: ‘We did not deserve to lose’ El Clasico

Ancelotti: ‘We did not deserve to lose’ El Clasico
  • Real Madrid opened the scoring through an own goal by Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo in the ninth minute
  • Barcelona replied through goals by Sergi Roberto and Frank Kessie in the 45th and 90th minutes

RIYADH: Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti expressed his disappointment after a 2-1 defeat to Barcelona in El Clasico, saying, “We did not deserve to lose.”

Real Madrid opened the scoring through an own goal by Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo in the ninth minute.

Barcelona replied through goals by Sergi Roberto and Frank Kessie in the 45th and 90th minutes.

Barcelona jumped to 68 points in the league table, 12 points ahead of Real Madrid, who lie second.

Ancelotti said at the press conference: “The points difference is bigger now and it has become more difficult, but we will do our best until the last match. Honestly, we didn’t deserve to lose. We tried our best, we played well and scored a goal. We were about to win the match.”

He added: “We are sad, but proud of the match we played, We tried everything, We haven’t won it due an off-side, we still have doubts about it, and we will return to Madrid with those doubts still in our minds.”

Team of the week for Roshn Saudi League round 21

Team of the week for Roshn Saudi League round 21
Moroccan star of Al-Ittihad rated 9.8. supplied
Updated 20 March 2023

Team of the week for Roshn Saudi League round 21

Team of the week for Roshn Saudi League round 21
  • Hamdallah is now the top scorer of the season by 15 goals so far, keeping Al-Nassr’s Talisca one goal behind

Riyadh: Abderrazak Hamdallah has been voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week by statistical website Sofascore after scoring a hat-trick in round 21 of the season.

The 32-year-old Moroccan star of Al-Ittihad rated 9.8 after scoring three out of five goals in the 5-1 victory against Al-Fateh.

Hamdallah is now the top scorer of the season by 15 goals so far, keeping Al-Nassr’s Talisca one goal behind.

Goalkeeper Martin Campana of Al-Batin was the only star of his category.

Hassan Al-Tambakti from Al-Shabab, Oscar Duarte from Al-Wehda and Ali Al-Salem from Al-Adalah were the best defenders.

In midfield, Andre Carrillo of Al-Hilal, Igor Coronado from Al-Ittihad, Lucas Souza from Al-Khaleej, Abdullah Al-Ammar from Damac and Abdulrahman Al-Obud from Al-Ittihad ranked top of their categories. 

Odion Ighalo of Al-Hilal and Hamdallah were the best performers in the forward line.

Man United into FA Cup semifinals after 3-1 win over Fulham in emotion-laden match

Man United into FA Cup semifinals after 3-1 win over Fulham in emotion-laden match
Updated 20 March 2023

Man United into FA Cup semifinals after 3-1 win over Fulham in emotion-laden match

Man United into FA Cup semifinals after 3-1 win over Fulham in emotion-laden match
  • Game turned upside down as the visitors were reduced to nine players and had their manager sent off 
  • Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic faces 3-game ban for barging into referee, a move that also earned him a red card

MANCHESTER, England: It was all set up for a famous FA Cup upset as Fulham led treble-chasing Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
But in the space of seven chaotic second-half minutes, the visitors were reduced to nine players, had their manager sent off and conceded twice.
It was a meltdown of epic proportions and United capitalized on it in ruthless fashion to advance to the semifinals with a 3-1 win that keeps its three-pronged trophy pursuit on track.
There is also the prospect of a mouthwatering FA Cup final against Manchester City after the rivals were kept apart in the draw for the last four.
Thoughts of an all-Manchester showdown at Wembley on June 3, however, looked in serious doubt after Aleksandar Mitrovic fired Fulham ahead in the 50th minute of the quarterfinal match.
That was before the game was turned upside down as Fulham’s players and manager Marco Silva lost control.
Emotions boiled over after Willian blocked Jadon Sancho’s goal-bound shot in the 70th and VAR instructed referee Chris Kavanagh to review the incident on the touchline monitor.
Before the official could even make a decision, he had shown a red card to Silva for remonstrating furiously in the dugout.
Replays showed Willian had clearly used his hand and was sent off as a result. That sparked outrage from Mitrovic, who barged into Kavanagh and was also shown red.
All three dismissals came over a period of 40 seconds.
“Even if I haven’t done something special, I have to control myself,” Silva said afterward. “I didn’t say anything special to the ref, he didn’t listen and showed me the red card. It is a moment to control my emotions. The game was decided in the moment.”
All that was left was for Bruno Fernandes to dispatch his penalty and even the score in the 75th.
Two minutes later Marcel Sabitzer put United in front and nine-man Fulham was on its way out.
Fernandes scored a second to make it 3-1 in the sixth minute of stoppage time and set up a Wembley semifinal game against Brighton.
Manager Erik ten Hag has already led United to victory in the League Cup this season and his team is also into the quarterfinals of the Europa League where it faces Sevilla.
“One thing is important — don’t think too far ahead,” Ten Hag said. “Go from game to game.
“We see the progress in the team, but this team has a strong character, strong belief, strong determination to win games. Today was an example of it. When you have difficult period in a game, stay in the game and turn the game.”
Mitrovic faces ban
Mitrovic will receive at least an automatic three-game ban for his sending off, which had echoes of an infamous incident involving Paulo di Canio from 1998.
The then Sheffield Wednesday striker was banned for 11 games after shoving referee Paul Alcock to the ground during a match.
“I saw the image and I spoke with Mitro, it is a moment for him to control the emotions,” Silva said. “He pushed the referee, but I did not see that in so bad, bad way like you are saying to me. But I hope the people who are going to decide (do so) with fairness.”
Arsenal extend EPL lead
Knocked out of Europe on Thursday, Arsenal’s sights are now solely fixed on winning the Premier League title for the first time in 19 years.
And that elusive prize edged closer as a 4-1 win against Crystal Palace moved Mikel Arteta’s team eight points clear at the top of the table.
There was no sign of a hangover after the penalty shootout loss to Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League as Arsenal underlined its title credentials.
Gabriel Martinelli, who missed the decisive spot kick in that match, quickly put that disappointment behind him by opening the scoring against Palace.
“There is always the question,” Arsenal manager Arteta said. “But I asked him yesterday how he was and he said: ‘I want to be in the team.’
“We were really determined and focused and left Thursday in the past.”
Arsenal still has to play second-place Manchester City and Liverpool before the end of the season. But the London club is in impressive form having won six in a row in the league.
Bukayo Saka provided the pass for Martinelli and became the first player in the league to reach double figures for goals and assists this season. He then went on to score two more himself.
Granit Xhaka got Arsenal’s other goal, while Jeffrey Schlupp scored for Palace, who fired manager Patrick Vieira this week.
Doyle ruled out
Manchester City prospect Tommy Doyle fired Sheffield United into the FA Cup semifinals and then learned he will have to miss out on the biggest game of his young career.
The 21-year-old midfielder is on loan at Sheffield and due to competition rules is ineligible to play against his parent club after the Blades were drawn against Man City in the next round.
It means Doyle will be a spectator for the match at Wembley, when Premier League champions City will be favorites to advance to the final.
Doyle struck in the first minute of second-half stoppage time as Sheffield beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 in a thrilling quarterfinal clash between the two second-tier sides.
Blackburn had twice taken the lead through Ben Brereton and Sammie Szmodics.
Sam Gallagher’s own-goal and Oliver McBurnie evened the score on each occasion before Doyle’s late winner.
But he barely had time to enjoy his celebrations before learning Sheffield had been drawn against City.
Fairy tale ends
Grimsby’s FA Cup fairy tale is over after the fourth-tier team was routed 5-0 by Premier League Brighton.
Grimsby was the lowest-ranked team left in the competition and had reached the quarters for the first time since 1939, having knocked out top-flight Southampton in the last round.
But there was no danger of another upset against Brighton, which scored four goals in the second half at Amex Stadium.
Deniz Undav fired the home side in front after just six minutes. Evan Ferguson scored twice after the break, with Solly March and Kaoru Mitoma completing the rout.