1-0, Ritchie, 8'. 2-0, Gouffran, 35'. 2-1, Cotterill, 70'. 3-1, Ritchie, 91'.
Newcastle United 3-1 Birmingham City: Magpies comfortable as they progress to the fourth round

Newcastle United 3-1 Birmingham City: Magpies comfortable as they progress to the fourth round

Goals from Matt Ritchie and Yoan Gouffran ensured Newcastle will face Oxford United in the next round of the FA Cup.

Aaron Stokes

Newcastle United progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup with a relatively easy 3-1 win over Birmingham City

An eighth minute penalty from Matt Ritchie, followed by a neat Yoan Gouffran finish gave the hosts a 2-0 lead at half time.

David Cotterill gave Birmingham a lifeline with 20 minutes remaining but as the board went up for added time, Jonjo Shelvey squared the ball across the six yard box for Ritchie to tap in his second of the game.

The result means Birmingham have now failed to beat Newcastle in the last eight meetings between the pair.

Comfortable first half for the Mags

The game's first real action came after just eight minutes when Yoan Gouffran was brought down in the penalty area by an oncoming Adam Legzdins. Ritchie stepped up and coolly slotted the ball down the middle.

Birmingham attempted to respond quickly but efforts from Solomon-Otabor and Cotterill were wide of the target. 

Newcastle almost had a second through Jonjo Shelvey, who was urged by the crowd to hit a long range effort, to which he obliged, forcing Legzdins into a low save.

The Blues continued to push for an equaliser as the half went on. First, Davis' low strike was blocked by DeAndre Yedlin, before Cotterill hit the side netting with a free kick.

The home side doubled their advantage ten minutes before half time when Yedlin played a free kick into the box and Gouffran was able to turn and slot home on the half volley.

Mini scare for United 

The second period started in much quieter fashion and the first chance of note came on the hour mark, when Birmingham's Adams fired a shot over from range.

Minutes later, Ritchie was played in over the top for Newcastle but could only find the torso of an oncoming goalkeeper. Achraf Lazaar then went close with a low effort from the edge of the area. 

With 20 minutes remaining, the Blues were handed a lifeline when Cotterill sliced a close-range finish over Matz Sels. 

The visitors began to push for the equaliser and Adams nearly found by latching onto a Cotterill free kick, and heading just over the top.

With ten minutes remaining, both sides looked for a crucial goal. Adams went down in the box appealing for a penalty but referee Lee Probert waved away his claims. Shelvey fired a shot wide at the other end.

The Magpies survived late pressure and wrapped the game up in stoppage time, Shelvey storming down the left hand side, stinging a low cross across the six-yard box for Ritchie to score from close range. 

How did the young guns do?

Three young players were handed their debuts by Benitez, in the form of Dan Barlaser, Stuart Findlay and Yasin Ben El-Mhanni.

Barlaser, a local lad, looked nervy at first but grew into the game as time went on. 

Although the Newcastle defence as a whole were never really put under severe pressure, Findlay handled everything that came his way. The 21-year-old looks like a signing who can play a real part in the years to come. 

Finally, El-Mhanni, who many will have seen in videos on social media, had little involvement throughout and was replaced by Ayoze Perez with 20 minutes remaining. The youngster showed signs of his skills but it may take time for him to perfect his game in England. 

The three players may get another chance to prove their worth, as United take on Oxford United in the next round of the competition.