It's not clear exactly what Eddie Howe said to his players at half-time of their third round Carabao Cup tie at home to Manchester City, but they emerged a completely different team in the second half and proceeded to aggressively dump the favourites out of the competition.
"I said a few things," admitted Howe when asked about his half-time team talk. "But I don't necessarily think it was anything that I said. I'm not going to give myself the credit for that. I'm going to give the players the credit for probably just feeling better about the team."
To avoid obvious cliches, this game was one of contrasting periods. No rhythm and few chances saw Pep Guardiola's side shade a tepid first half. Perhaps it was to be expected, with both sides rotating players out of necessity, with packed schedules to negotiate across the next eight months.
The game, and Newcastle's crowd, sprang to life when half-time substitute Anthony Gordon clattered Mateo Kovacic with a touchline tackle that was laughed off by the Croatian and his manager. But it set the aggressive tone Eddie Howe was looking for.
If both managers are honest they might admit the Carabao Cup is at the lower end of their priorities this season, but you would've thought there was three Premier League points at stake when Pep Guardiola entered Newcastle's technical area for a 'discussion' with Eddie Howe and his omnipresent Assistant Jason Tindall mid way through the second half.
"It was all friendly, actually" insisted Howe in his post match press conference. "It was very nice. Lighthearted, no problems. I think both teams wanted to win."
Guardiola, backed up by his Assistant Juanma Lillo, seemed to take umbrage with Newcastle's management team after Newcastle's players failed to kick the ball out of play midway through the second half, with a Manchester City player injured.
Guardiola received a yellow card for his trespassing. "Sometime emotions are there," said the Spaniard after the game. "Well deserved for the yellow card again."
Guardiola played down his post-match disappointment after the final whistle. "Do you think the target was to win the quadruple? Honestly." Before insisting his team still had three more competitions to play for, if you include the Super Cup.
He praised Newcastle commenting that they are "a top side, defensively strong in all departments."
Howe rotated his entire backline for the game, bringing in Matt Targett, long serving defenders Paul Dummett and Jamaal Lascelles and handing Tino Livramento a home debut. The latter was particularly impressive, earning the man of the match award having limited Jack Grealish's chances all evening. A big contribution to Newcastle's fourth clean sheet in a row.
Joelinton returned to the starting line up after a period out and it was his driving run that broke the deadlock after 53 minutes. Charging into and across the Manchester City penalty area, his reverse cross evaded everyone. Rico Lewis couldn't correct his feet and failed to back heel the danger away. That left Alexander Isak free at the back post to control the cross and cooly slot home what turned out to be the winnner at the Gallowgate End.
Newcastle's reward for beating Manchester City is an away tie at Manchester United, last year's winners. Not that Newcastle need reminding of that.
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