Newcastle United’s dreams of silverware were extinguished again last night after a spirited but fruitless performance against Manchester City.
Newcastle’s fans have long maintained that they value trophies over the top-ten finish the board covert.
But after matching Manchester City for 90 minutes, extra-time goals from Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko saw them knocked out of the League Cup at the last 16.
Newcastle started the hungrier, which on cup nights like this counts for a lot.
They were shaped in a 4-4-2 formation and with Shola Ameobi back in the starting line-up they were direct.
City have bigger fish to fry than the League Cup, and it showed. Stevan Jovetic went off injured in the first ten minutes and his replacement Alvaro Negredo was on his haunches within a minute after coming on having been hit by a Massadio Haidara free kick.
A second consecutive derby defeat at the weekend or not, those fans in the ground were not in a very mutinous mood. Large sections of the ground were shut but most of the rest were full with a young crowd taking advantage of the generous ticket prices.
It was 27 minutes before the first chant against Mike Ashley started but they, like those that followed, quickly petered out.
A long ball from Haidara – making his first appearance of the season – showed the way to go. Unfortunately Papiss Cisse’s step-over caused Ameobi as much confusion.
When Ameobi flicked another long ball on after nine minutes, Cisse stabbed wide. The Senegalese striker then tried some acrobatics when keeping it more simple would have sufficed from Yoan Gouffran’s cross. Mathieu Debuchy produced a great bit of skill to rescue a pass that was behind him, but Gouffran could not get a firm enough touch on his cross.
City looked like they might assert themselves in the second quarter, James Milner breaking into a large amount of space down the left, only to hit his cross from the byline straight out.
They even forced the corner.
Newcastle reasserted themselves and after half an hour Ameobi forced Pantilimon into a stretching save. The corner was wasted but it was a warning.
Ameobi netted from an offside position and Vernon Anita steered the half’s best chance wide when he should have scored.
It was Milner’s turn to miss a great chance as City came out much stronger for the second half.
Within a minute they had forced a corner and although it came to nothing it was perhaps a sign that Manuel Pellegrini had had some strong words at half time.
When Newcastle shifted the ball across the area in the 51st minute Anita did as the crowd told him and shot, but wide. Jack Rodwell missed the target at the other end unable to keep his shot down under pressure from Cisse.
Moussa Sissoko had no such excuses a minute later, simply losing balance. But the best chance by far fell to Milner in the 63rd minute. Tim Krul was drawn out of his area to deal with Jesus Navas and the Spaniard was distraught to see Milner miss an open goal when the ball came loose to him at the corner of the penalty area.
The introduction of Yohan Cabaye lifted the crowd that had been singing his name to Alan Pardew.
Micah Richards could only poke Krul’s long ball in the direction of Sissoko, whose shot deflected wide. The England outcast was making a rare start after missing the first few months of the season through injury and it told on him, seeing him forced off with cramp. Needless to say, he found little sympathy in the stands.
Richards was not the only fullback to go off injured. Newcastle substitute Paul Dummett did too.
Cabaye was next to shoot wide but off balance and off target it was a hopeful attempt. When Edin Dzeko was unable to convert two decent chances in quick succession, extra time was looking increasingly likely.
First he headed wide Navas’ cross from the byline then Krul got a crucial touch as the Bosnian tried to dink the ball over him.
Neither side seemed to fancy another 30 minutes although perhaps Pantilimon did judging by his save from Cisse with six minutes to go.
Debuchy was forced to volley off the line after Krul made a hash of a cross while Gouffran’s embarrassment at heading wide was saved by an offside flag. Dummett was sorley missed when Navas was given an embarrassing amount of freedom by a tired-looking Newcastle along the byline he had reached so often. The Spaniard was only able to pick out Sissoko but when the midfielder’s attempted counterattack broke down, City took the lead. Dzeko easily picked out Negredo who tapped the ball home.
Newcastle looked utterly demoralised as Dzeko doubled the lead just before half time in extra time. The striker was played through by Milner and went around Krul as if the goalkeeper was not there.