Newcastle 1-0 Man City: Alexander Isak strike knocks out treble winners
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Alexander Isak of Newcastle United (14) runs with the ball during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James' Park on September 27, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

It was a game of two halves at St James' Park, as Newcastle United and Manchester City battled it out to determine who would progress in this year's Carabao Cup Competition. Ultimately, the Magpies would prevail with a single goal scored by Swedish superstar Alexander Isak. 

It was the second meeting between the two sides this season, with the earlier league game at the Etihad being settled by a single first-half strike from Argentine Julian Alvarez. 

  • Story of the game

Newcastle United made ten changes to the side that ran out a historic win at Bramall Lane on the weekend. Only Nick Pope started for the side which put eight past the Blades. First starts were handed to Lewis Hall and 17-year-old Lewis Miley, who had an excellent pre-season in the US. 

Manchester City did not tinker quite as much as Newcastle, but still made wholesale changes. Only three players from the weekend kept their starting spots, Manuel Akanji, Josep Gvardiol and Alvarez. Mateo Kovacic came back from injury to come into the starting eleven, as did Kalvin Phillips, covering for the currently suspended Rodri. 

The first half hinted at a pattern all too regularly seen whenever Man City are in town. Dominating in possession, freely making passes in the final third, and probing to find their opponents' weaknesses. Newcastle held firm, and with a few interventions from Nick Pope against the lively youngster Oscar Bobb, the mixture of young and old players chosen by Eddie Howe stopped the net from rippling.

Both club captain Jamaal Lascelles and the seldom-seen Paul Dummett marshalled the defence. Jack Grealish faced off against Tino Livramento on the right but seldom got the better of him and as much as City huffed and puffed, they could not blow the house down. 

As the first half drew to a close Newcastle created their first, and biggest opportunity of the game so far. Joelinton nicked the ball in midfield and played a quick pass to Alexander Isak who threaded in the overlapping Jacob Murphy on the right wing. The Newcastle veteran ran down on Stefan Ortega's net and released an effort which was well saved by the backup City keeper. A warning shot to Manchester City of what was to come in the second half. 

As the half-time whistle blew, it had been all City. They had managed the possession well and Newcastle had only had seven passes in the final third. Almost everything pointed to one inevitable outcome.

As the teams came out for the second half, Eddie Howe made two changes. Two of the youngsters who had an underwhelming impact in the first half, Lewis Hall and Lewis Miley, were substituted for the composure and experience of Anthony Gordon and Bruno Guimaraes.

From those two changes came a total shift in the dynamic of the game. Suddenly the Newcastle press we have all seen before came back. The midfield three of Sandro Tonali, Guimaraes and Joelitnon harried and harassed the City players, giving them not even a moment of breath.

Excellent pressing work from Gordon, Isak and Jacob Murphy on the wings forced throw-ins and corners that City did not look comfortable dealing with at all. Newcastle suddenly looked a real threat. 

Deadlock broken

In the 53rd minute, Jacob Murphy turned his man and sprinted quickly towards Man City's box, he laid the ball off to a marauding Joelinton who galloped through the Manchester City defence. They attempted to shepherd him wide, but the Brazilian powerhouse managed to lay a ball off across the face of the goal. The ball ran beneath the unset feet of Rico Lewis and fell to Alexander Isak. The striker from Sweden took one touch and powered it into the net. 1-0.

Within 15 minutes of the beginning of the second half, Newcastle had tripled their touches in the final third. Their pressing and harrying caught City cold, and here they had got their reward. 

On the hour mark Isak, whose pressing had been so crucial to Newcastle's second-half renaissance was substituted with Miguel Almiron, moving Murphy into the middle to take his place. This perhaps disrupted some of the attacking threat Newcastle posed, but their defence remained as steely as it had done in the first half.

Matheus Nunes and Jeremy Doku came on for Manchester City for Nathan Ake and Kovacic. The former had an almost golden opportunity to equalise in the 83rd minute, if not for a crucial last-minute intervention from the excellent Livramento.

Phil Foden was brought on for the blues in place of Alvarez and his combination play with Doku on the left side of their attack asked questions of Newcastle and caused more problems than had been managed in the first half by Grealish. Rico Lewis, nearly making amends for his earlier defensive frailty let loose a good strike from the edge of the post in the 90th minute, but it rolled wide of Pope's post. 

Six minutes were added on and Newcastle played the clock down perfectly. The game ran out with a 1-0 win to the Magpies, a slight shock to Pep Guardiola's system. The manager, visibly frustrated himself, picked up a yellow card for dissent in the closing stages of the match.

  • Player of the Match: Tino Livramento

Lacking the lion's share of possession, this game was always going to be one of patience and defensive solidity from Newcastle. No one else on the team better exemplified that than Livramento. The young right-back was intelligent, self-assured and gave a very mature performance.

He completely took Grealish out of the game, forcing the winger to take speculative efforts from deep at Pope's goal, and snuffed out danger wherever he could. Playing in a way that his senior peer Kieran Trippier would be proud of. If this is who Eddie Howe wants to look at as a long-term replacement in the right back position over Trippier, then on today's performance he can feel well assured in his choice.