Newcastle Utd 3 Portsmouth 0
Thursday October 25th 2006
NEWCASTLE UTD 3 PORTSMOUTH 0
NEWCASTLE: Harper, Taylor (Ramage 90), Moore, Bramble,Babayaro, Solano, Butt (Dyer 60), N'Zogbia, Milner, Rossi,Martins (Duff 46).
Subs Not Used: Srnicek, Luque.
PORTSMOUTH: James, Pamarot, O'Brien, Primus, Taylor,Thompson (Koroman 46), Davis (Hughes 73), Fernandes,Kranjcar (Douala 63), Cole, LuaLua.
Subs Not Used: Kiely, Kanu.
The League Cup, or Carling Cup as it is called these days, has never really brought out the crowds at St James' Park since it was started back in 1960. So I wouldn't read too much into the attendance of only 25,028 hardy souls who braved the weather to watch the Toon.
Feelings were obviously frayed after the defeat to the Smoggies, but in this game you are only remembered for the last match, and I'm sure this thrashing of Pompey will keep the wolves at bay. Well ... until Saturday night at least.
Giuseppe Rossi was itching for a start, and having scored here to open the scoring, I'm sure Glenn Roeder will be peppered with the same question over and over again - 'why has it taken so long to put him in the team?' The on-loan striker is thought to be a Manchester United starlet of the future, and Sir Alex Ferguson has been baffled why he had been limited to only 48 minutes sunstitute appearances. But he struck three minutes after half-time to set the Magpies on the road to the fourth round.
Nobby Solano, voted man of the match by the sponsors, made sure of the win five minutes later with a thumping header from substitute Damien Duff's cross, before finishing things off with his second of the night in injury time.
The weather was dreadful and the pitch was treacherous, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one expecting the worst at half-time. If the referee had felt the conditions were worse for the second half I'm sure he would have called a halt. But early in the match when Steve Harper dived to get the ball ... and slid a full ten yards across his penalty area ... I felt we wouldn't see the 90 minutes.
Roeder made five changes to the side which went down at Middlesbrough on Sunday - out went skipper Scott Parker, Stephen Carr, Peter Ramage, Damien Duff and the injured Antoine Sibierski as Solano, Rossi, Titus Bramble, Celestine Babayaro, Charles N'Zogbia and Rossi were drafted in.
Bramble had a good game, but just when we were praising him, he meant to send a pass out wide to the left and hit Babayaro on the back when the full-back was little more than four yards next to him. That brought the usual groans from the fans 'not again!'
The visitors were by far the more impressive in the early stages and it took United about twenty minutes to offer anything like an attack.
But the home side started the half as they finished the first - on the front foot - and took the lead within three minutes of the restart after Milner surged into the box and Rossi latched onto the loose ball and calmly slotted home his first goal for the club.
The lead was doubled five minutes later when Duff sent in a deep cross from the left and Solano arrived unmarked at the far post to power a header past James.
The introduction of Kieron Dyer as a 60th minute replacement for Butt was greeted warmly by the home fans and he might have marked his return with a goal within three minutes as he ended a mazy run with a shot across the face of goal.
Pompey thought they had dragged themselves back into it with seven minutes remaining when LuaLua stabbed the ball home from close range after the home side failed to deal with a near post corner, but an off-side flag ended his celebrations.
And Solano completed the scoring in the last minute of normal time when he capitalised on Milner's run to slot home a third from close range.
A welcome result for Roeder, and the fans trooped away soaked to the skin ... but very happy.