Miguel Almiron scored twice to help Newcastle into the last eight of the FA Cup, despite West Brom almost mounting a late comeback in a terrific encounter.
Newcastle are into the quarters for the first time since 2006 after winning 3-2 at The Hawthorns on Tuesday night, but Championship leaders Albion pushed their Premier League opponents all the way.
Both teams had early chances as Kyle Edwards tested Magpies goalkeeper Karl Darlow from range and Allan Saint-Maximin struck the crossbar, before Almiron scored twice in 12 minutes before the break.
His first was a fine clipped finish on the run after Saint-Maximin’s through ball, before Joelinton back-heeled a pass inside the box and Almiron smashed home his second.
Immediately after the restart, Valentino Lazaro bundled in a third from close range, before Matt Phillips pulled one back for West Brom and Kenneth Zohore netted a second late on in a very open cup tie.
West Brom: Bond (5), Furlong (5), O’Shea (6), Bartley (6), Gibbs (5), Brunt (6), Barry (5), Harper (6), Phillips (7), Austin (6), Edwards (7)
Subs: Krovinovic (6), Zohore (7), Tulloch (n/a)
Newcastle: Darlow (6), Manquillo (6), Schar (7), Lascelles (6), Rose (7), Bentaleb (6), S Longstaff (7), Lazaro (8), Almiron (8), Saint-Maximin (8), Joelinton (7)
Subs: Shelvey (6), Gayle (n/a), Lejeune (n/a)
Man of the Match: Allan Saint-Maximin
How Newcastle’s attack finally clicked
The opening minutes of the game saw chances come at both ends, though only one goalkeeper faced a real early test.
Nabil Bentaleb broke free through the centre for Newcastle, but needing to find a square pass to tee up Almiron, succeeded in only passing behind his team-mate who was free in the area. Minutes later, Edwards won the ball back for West Brom 10 yards outside the Newcastle penalty box, but his quick turn and shot was beaten away by Darlow.
The Magpies’ first real sight of goal came just before the 20-minute mark, when Joelinton dribbled in off the left wing, beat two defenders and shot toward the near post – but Jonathan Bond was equal to the effort.
Newcastle began to exert their dominance midway through the half and two spectacular moments from Saint-Maximin proved too much for the Baggies to handle.
First, he spun 30 yards out and cracked in a drive which rattled the top of the post, with Bond nowhere near the shot, then fed a well-weighted pass through the centre for Almiron to race onto and clip a fine finish into the far corner, opening the scoring.
West Brom attempted to mount a response before the break, but they left themselves open to the counter-attack a number of times and it was Newcastle who grabbed a second before half-time. Joelinton held off a defender in the box and played a clever back-heeled pass towards the penalty spot, allowing Almiron to stride onto the ball and smash home his second.
West Brom made 10 changes from their weekend defeat to Wigan, with only defender Dara O’Shea remaining in the side.
Newcastle opted for six changes to the line-up which drew 0-0 with Burnley, with goalkeeper Karl Darlow coming in along with Valentino Lazaro, Allan Saint-Maximin, Nabil Bentaleb, Fabian Schar, and Sean Longstaff.
If Slaven Bilic had spent the half-time interval issuing new instructions and a rallying call to his West Brom troops, they were quickly rendered irrelevant.
Within a minute of the restart, a long switched pass out to the left found the ever-influential Saint-Maximin in space and he delivered an early, low cross toward Lazaro in the middle. Bond attempted to dive out and palm the danger away, but succeeded only in hitting the ball straight at the Austrian, who bundled in the third goal.
West Brom did continue to push forward and created a slew of half-chances, with Filip Krovinovic shooting just over and Kyle Bartley heading across the face of goal, before they finally found the net with just over 15 minutes left.
Edwards had just struck the crossbar with a deflected shot from range, when sub Zohore nodded down a cross for Phillips to volley into the ground and up into the net.
They might have scored another only a minute later to set up a frantic finish, when Darlow spilled a shot into Zohore’s path, but the striker couldn’t control the rebound on the run. He did however net a second for the Baggies in stoppage time, turning home after Edwards’ excellent run and cut-back, but there was no further time to complete the comeback.
Newcastle progress into the quarters for the first time since 2005/06, but most pleasing of all for manager Steve Bruce might be the offensive prowess his team showed after four consecutive Premier League games without a goal.
For West Brom, the focus will revert to their Championship campaign and the push for promotion to the top flight, where Newcastle will now surely have more reason for confidence of remaining themselves.
WATCH: Bruce’s frosty exchange with journalist
The Newcastle boss might have been happy with the performance and result, but after the whistle he was still annoyed with an article published the day prior to the match which suggested he had been involved in a falling-out with Saint-Maximin.
Bruce vehemently denied it was the case and reiterated his stance that he was merely looking out for his winger’s fitness.
- As a second-tier side, West Bromwich Albion have been eliminated from five of their last six FA Cup ties against Premier League opposition, with the exception being their fourth-round tie against West Ham this season.
- Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron has scored four goals in his five FA Cup matches this season, double the amount he’s scored in 24 Premier League appearances (2).
- Newcastle have scored more FA Cup goals than any other Premier League side this season (11). Indeed, the Magpies are averaging 2.2 goals-per-game in the FA Cup compared to 0.9 in the Premier League this season.
- Matt Phillips scored his first goal for West Brom since December (vs Swansea), ending a run of 16 games without a goal for the Scotsman.
Man of the Match – Allan Saint-Maximin
The Newcastle attacker was involved in all his team’s best moments, set up two goals and almost netted a thunderous strike of his own. His vision in the pass helped get the most out of Almiron’s constant movement.
What the managers said
Slaven Bilic rejected the suggestion that he might have regretted making wholesale changes, after his second-string outfit pushed Newcastle all the way.
“The league is the priority,” the boss said. “Some of the players needed a rest considering the league situation.
“I also had a lot of players and they deserved a game and deserved a chance.
“We are not a club which should be proud or happy after defeat. I’m very disappointed with the result but very happy with the performance, especially in the second half.
“We paid them too much respect. We said to the guys at half time to unleash themselves more, I knew there was more and then the second half started in the worst possible way.”
Steve Bruce also pointed out that the league form remains the priority, but acknowledged that this result and run in the cup could spur his team on across both competitions.
“The Premier League is the most important thing for all of us, make no doubt about that, but it can only help. We’ve had a difficult time.
“The Premier League is very difficult. We’ve got a decent platform. I know we’re capable of getting the points we need.
“It’s a great competition, when you get this far you try to get to where you want to try to get to.
“I experienced it at Hull (reaching the final in 2014) and ask the supporters at Hull, the day out at Wembley is the one they enjoyed. We’re a step closer, let’s see who we get.
“We made a bit of hard work of it but for a large period of time I was delighted with the way we played. It’s a shame the last 10 minutes has spoiled it for us.”
Both teams have league action at the weekend; West Brom are away to Swansea in the Championship, while Newcastle face Southampton away in the Premier League. Both games kick-off at 3pm on Saturday.