Match report and free highlights as Joelinton missed a sitter before scoring the only goal of the game; Adam Armstrong denied an equaliser after VAR review; Duje Caleta-Car sent off for two bookable offences; Newcastle take a one goal lead into the return leg at St James' Park next week
Wednesday 25 January 2023 11:18, UK
Newcastle took one step closer to their first domestic cup final since 1999 with an edgy 1-0 win over struggling Southampton, whose woes were compounded by the fact they had yet another goal chalked off by VAR and were reduced to 10 men late on.
Joelinton was guilty of spurning what looked to be the best chance of a cagey game when found by Miguel Almiron at the back post, firing aimlessly over the bar with the goal gaping (53), before then atoning for his earlier error by tapping home substitute Alexander Isak's cross (73).
Che Adams wasted Southampton's most presentable opportunity before the game's opener, coming off second best in a one-on-one with "outstanding" Nick Pope (65), before Adam Armstrong was then denied after fumbling the ball over the line (75), only for VAR to spot a handball in the build up - the second time in three days Saints have seen goals disallowed after VAR review.
"We've been the victim of four VAR calls against us [recently]," Nathan Jones said post-match.
Magpies goalkeeper Pope has made 10 appearances and faced 20 shots since last conceding a goal, which has led to Newcastle keeping more clean sheets in all competitions than any other side in Europe's big five leagues.
"Nick made some big saves today. Especially the one against [Che] Adams - it was a big moment in the match. He stood up tall for us like he has all season. I can't rate him highly enough," manager Eddie Howe regaled.
The two sides will meet again on January 31 to decide who will earn the prize of a Wembley final in late February against either Nottingham Forest or Manchester United.
Cup progression had provided some respite for under-fire boss Nathan Jones after three wins in the space of a week in January saw Saints advance in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and edge out Everton in Premier League action.
Since then, Southampton have come crashing back down to earth with a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa - their fourth consecutive loss at home in the league - and a semi-final setback at the hands of Newcastle.
"The 1-0 scoreline is delicate, nothing's decided," Howe told Sky Sports afterwards, but his side nevertheless hold the advantage and will be favourites to progress, with Joelinton notching his third goal in eight games.
Saints, who had what they thought was an equaliser from Armstrong disallowed for handball, saw their night of frustration complete when Duje Caleta-Car was sent off in the closing stages - their first dismissal in any competition for over 12 months.
The defender, who was already on a yellow card when lunging into a clumsy challenge on Allan Saint-Maximin in the 86th minute, will be ruled out of the return leg in seven days time.
Central figure Joelinton also had a first-half goal ruled out in a similar manner to Armstrong's, before missing a sitter but then recovering admirably to apply the telling touch to Isak's teasing delivery. The substitute rounded Caleta-Car and lay the ball on a plate for the Brazilian at the back post, who poked into the net with Gavin Bazunu stranded.
"The goal was naive," Jones concluded. "It shouldn't happen."
Newcastle now have a fixture-free week to prepare for the return meeting, while Saints go to St James' Park following an FA Cup fourth-round game against Blackpool.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe:
"It was a tough game. Both teams had their moments so very pleased to get the win but it's only half time. We weren't clinical until Joe's goal. I can't be critical of the team in any way, it's been a good day for us.
"There's a lot to play in the tie. We needed Nick [Pope]. Very pleased to see VAR intervene [to disallow Southampton's goal].
"The two saves Nick made were big moments in the game. It was a huge time in the game, Nick stood up. He's been outstanding for us this year. He's got a great defence in front of him but whenever he's needed he's produced the goods for us."
Southampton manager Nathan Jones:
"I'm really proud of the level of performance. They are a tough side to play against. I thought we were excellent and for us to compete like we did shows we've come a long way. In the second half we really stepped it up and just lacked a bit of quality.
"Nowadays you can't celebrate a goal because you don't know what is going to happen. You never know. We've been the victim of four VAR goals [recently]. It's really disappointing. No problem with the officials or anything, it was given in the VAR studio.
"I thought it was an entertaining game. We went right after them, we were brave and bold and energetic. We know we need a bit of help, a bit more quality, once we get that and stop conceding goals on a regular basis we'll be tougher to beat. If we do that we'll be a better team.
"We've needed this window to recruit. You've seen [Charly] Alcaraz tonight, who I thought was phenomenal."
Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher insisted both disallowed goals were correct decisions on a good night for the officials.
Joelinton's first-half opener was ruled out by referee Stuart Attwell for handball and then the VAR Andre Marriner confirmed the decision.
In the second half, Adam Armstrong thought he had equalised for Southampton, but his goal was also chalked off for handball following a VAR check.
Newcastle midfielder Bruno Guimaraes:
"We played very well. We controlled the game but we missed some opportunities. We are happy that we can win the first game - 1-0 is important for us. I am proud of the team today.
"We could score more but we have one goal, that is important. I would like to say thanks for Nick Pope. He has been brilliant for us. I think he is the best goalkeeper right now in the world."
Southampton return to action in the FA Cup on Saturday with the visit of Blackpool; kick-off 3pm.
The Saints then face Newcastle in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at St James' Park on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 8pm.
Newcastle are already out of the FA Cup, meaning they have a free weekend. As a result, their next game is the visit of Southampton on Tuesday, when a place in the Carabao Cup final will be on the line.
The Magpies then return to Premier League action with the visit of West Ham on Saturday February 4, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 5.30pm.