A rollercoaster of a night for Newcastle United, but goals from Sean Longstaff, Joelinton and an extra time screamer from Allan Saint-Maximin finally got us over the line and into the FA Cup 5th round.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with our marks out of 10:
Darlow – 7 – Made a great save to keep us two up before half time, showing impressive reflexes to parry away a powerful close-range effort. Was a safe pair of hands most of the night and was quick off his line (which can be one of his weaknesses), but may have felt he could’ve got to Oxford’s late free-kick. Couldn’t do much about their late equaliser.
Schar – 5 – Considering he needs to be busting a gut and playing at his best to win his place back in the side over Federico Fernandez, I didn’t think he did enough here. A little half-hearted and casual at times and didn’t always show the quality on the ball we come expect from the classy Swiss international.
Lascelles – 8 – Won just about everything in the air and made one vital goal-line clearance in the first-half to keep it at 0-2 before the break. Played no part in the late collapse and dealt with a countless number of balls lumped into the box, either reading the play well or beating his man to the ball via a big leap or brute strength. A good night for the skipper after a difficult afternoon against Pukki on Saturday.
Lejeune – 6 – Got dragged out wide a few times and his lack of pace was exposed as a result, with him unable to stop a few crossed coming in down that side, but he was a calming influence on the ball at times and made a few key clearances and aerial wins in the second half. Tired late on and made a cynical foul in extra time as a result, which saw him be replaced by Clark moments later.
Yedlin – 4 – Another sloppy display from the American. His pace gives him the potential to be a brilliant outlet on the break, but his final ball and decision making was often atrocious, either slowing down or ending attacks that had plenty promise. Without pace he’s not a professional football – and that showed here. I’d expect Lazaro to start at Arsenal if he’s fit.
Bentaleb – 7 – A few careless moments in the first half, but he showed several moments of real quality on the ball. Made a few lovely cutting passes – almost bagging a brilliant assist after a top class cross into Joelinton – played with his head up and showed some lovely bits of skill to get himself out of tricky situations. Sometimes was guilty of taking risks on the ball and looked slightly off the pace at times early on, but this was only his third senior start since last April!
M Longstaff – 7 – Got stuck in, was typically tenacious and showed what an incredible engine he has late one, with him covering ground remarkably late on when most were out on there feet. Gave away a few too many cheap free kicks (including one that led to their late equaliser), with his youthful enthusiasm sometimes costing him, but he lasted the game brilliantly. Give the man a new contract!
Ritchie – 5 – A little bit erratic at times – both on and off the ball – with him also leaving Lejeune a little bit exposed at times in the first half. Plenty effort and intensity (which Ritchie never lacks), but his foul lead to the free-kick that got Oxford back in it – and it was a needless one, with him rushing in to recover after losing the ball in a bad area. Not the worst display in the world, but he’ll have to up his game if he plans to keep Danny Rose out of the side.
S Longstaff – 9* – He’s been out of sorts for several months but this was his best game for a long long time. Saint-Maximin stole the show, but he was our man of the match for me. Played in an advanced midfield role and looked more confident and composed on the ball, and showed great awareness and vision throughout – not only scoring early on but playing a brilliant ball in behind to set up Joelinton’s first-half strike. Also held the ball up very well when we needed him too late on and lasted the game well considering he’s looked a bit leggy lately. A superb display from a young player who desperately needed a performance like this!
Almiron – 7 – His final product sometimes let him down, but his bundles of energy and enthusiasm at both ends of the pitch were admirable. He was the one player who’s movement, running and will to get forward and create never let up – so it’s no surprised to hear Bruce say he’s ‘stiff, sore and tired’ in the dressing room after the game.
Joelinton – 8 – He only lasted 37 minutes – with him going off early with a rib problem – but his impact on the game was huge. He set up Sean Longstaff’s opener with a good run and lay off and scored a goal of his own 15 minutes later, showing a good turn of pace, the power to hold off his man and a calm head as he slotted past the Oxford keeper to make it 0-2. We then lacked his presence and the focal point he gave us from the point he went off onwards. Let’s hope he’s OK for Arsenal a week on Sunday! 1 goal, 1 assist and a big confidence boost for our big Brazilian!
Saint-Maximin – 8 – The man of the moment, with his stunning strike sending us into the last 16 with minutes to spare in extra time, cutting in, beating two men and smashing a 20-yard strike into the top corner. Picked out Longstaff with a good cut-back (which could’ve made it 1-3 in regular time), wanted the ball and did damage more often than not when he got it, forcing a few decent stops from Oxford’s stopper. You never know what he’s about to do next, but his moment of magic late on shows what an explosive talent we have on our hands!
Hayden – 6 – Put in a shift during his time on the pitch but struggled to get forward and join attacks. Helped steady the ship as Oxford pushed for a winner in extra time.
Clark – 6 – Replaced Lejeune in extra-time after the Frenchman began to tire. Made a few decent blocks and put his body on the line.
Atsu – 6 – A few erratic moments where he blazed over after some good initial approach play or picked the wrong option, but his pace helped put them on the back foot late on, with him also releasing ASM in the build up to his late screamer.