Wed 18 Jan 17
at 21:14 PM
Newcastle United 3 Blues 1
Gianfranco Zola saw his side knocked out of the FA Cup after a 3-1 defeat in their third round replay at St James' Park.
Despite Blues dominating the second-half and getting themselves back into the game through David Cotterill, a Matt Ritchie brace and a Yoan Gouffran strike proved to be too much for Zola's side.
The manager made six changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Nottingham Forest at the weekend, with Adam Legzdins, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Paul Robinson, Robert Tesche, David Cotterill and Viv Solomon-Otabor all starting.
It was a nightmare start for Zola's side who found themselves behind after only nine minutes thanks to an early penalty.
Adam Legzdins was guilty of bringing down Yoan Gouffran, allowing Matt Ritchie to step up and fire his spot-kick straight down the middle of Legzdin's goal.
Blues responded well to going a goal behind, creating a couple of chances of their own; both Viv Solomon-Otabor and David Cotterill went close but saw their efforts drag and curl just wide of Matz Sels' goal.
Blues grew into the game and despite the returning Jonjo Shelvey bringing Legzdins into action, troubled the hosts, David Davis was denied by a DeAndre Yedlin block at the far post before Cotterill saw a low, driven free-kick flash wide of the post.
Rafa Benitez's side almost got lucky and profitted from a Dacres-Cogley slip which allowed debutant Yasin Ben El-Mhanni to whip in a dangerous cross for Gouffran, who saw his effort strike the foot of the post.
Moments later and Gouffran wasn't to be denied as he doubled Newcastle's lead ten minutes before half-time. The Frenchman showing some good improvisation on the edge of the area before slotting his effort beyond the diving Legzdins.
Ritchie almost scored his second of the night just before the interval, when his curling, left-footed strike struck the same upright Gouffran had earlier in the half.
Despite enjoying much of the play after the break, Blues had Legzdins to thank for keeping them in the tie when the 'keeper was tested three times in quick succession.
Firstly denying Ritchie after the winger had been played in over the top, then the Blues stopper got down well to deny Achraf Lazaar before finally tipping Shelvey's in-swinging corner over the top.
Zola brought on top scorer Lukas Jutkiewicz and Reece Brown to try and get his side back into the tie and five minutes later they did just that.
Jutkiewicz's cross from the left was nodded down by Maikel Kieftenbeld, into the path of Cotterill who pulled one back for Blues. 2-1 with 20 minutes to play.
The Welsh winger then nearly turned provider for Jutkiewicz. Cotterill's free-kick from the left was met by the substitute but he couldn't keep his header down.
The introduction of Jutkiewicz certainly gave Blues a presence up top and the striker saw two more chances fall his way but he was unable to force Sels into a save.
As Blues pressed for that equaliser, Newcastle put the tie to bed as Ritchie netted his second of the night after good work by Shelvey to get to the byline.
Despite a spirited performance from Zola's side in the second-half, it's Newcastle who will face Oxford United in the fourth round.