Baggies 2 Toon 3

Last updated : 04 March 2020 By Footy Mad - Editor

Do we raise our hopes for a trip to Wembley, or do we face reality and look at the bigger picture.

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Yes we won, and for half an hour Albion couldn't live with Steve Bruce's team and tactics. But he took off Almiron when were 3-0 up, and we were lucky to survive!

Two goals from the impressive Almiron before half-time and another within two minutes of the re-start from Inter Milan loanee Valentino Lazaro put United in control. It was easy, as Albion played (almost) a reserve team.

But a much-changed West Brom (who made NINE changes) improved after the introduction of Filip Krovinovic and hit the bar through Kyle Bartley before Matt Phillips crashed a shot in.

After a switch in formation, Newcastle began to retreat and ended the match in nervy fashion as substitute Kenneth Zohore scored in injury time.

Baggies boss Slaven Bilic was also livid that a subsequent penalty appeal was turned down.

But Newcastle's victory was a welcome boost for Bruce, who has come under fire from some fans for a lack of creative football usually associated with the club.

The 5,000 travelling supporters headed back to Tyneside delighted with the win, but not so much by the manner it was achieved.

However, looking at it as a cherished win, it will give us hope that we can not only reach Wembley but also stay in the Premier League.

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Bruce's side, who are five points above the relegation zone, went into the game having failed to find the net in their past four Premier League games.

That run continued for the first half where they created plenty of openings, but chances that fell to Joelinton and Sean Longstaff were either saved or off target.

Lazaro and Nabil Bentaleb also wasted good opportunities, with Allan Saint-Maximin rattling the woodwork with a stinging shot from 25 yards.

But a recent change to a more attacking 4-2-3-1 formation by Bruce paid off when Almiron, usually stationed on the right of a 5-4-1 set-up, ran onto Saint-Maximin's through ball and slotted past Jonathan Bond.

It sent the travelling fans delirious, but after such a long wait for a goal, they could not believe their fortune when Almiron's second followed in first-half stoppage time as he smashed in following Joelinton's cheeky backheel.

The shirts came off in the away end, and a purple flare soon followed.

Lazaro's bundled effort, which came after Almiron's searching cross to Saint-Maximin, appeared to end the contest, and had the away fans singing of reaching Wembley.

The two West Brom goals made the win far more edgy than Bruce would have liked, especially as he took off Almiron and introduced Jonjo Shelvey to try and shore things up.

That didn't happen. The midfield fell apart.

Bruce's side reached the last eight for the first time in owner Mike Ashley's era and put themselves within one win of reaching Wembley.