- Newcastle stop rot with win over rivals
- Isak double sinks Sunderland
- First away win since October boosts Magpies
Newcastle United halted their recent slump with a convincing triumph over arch-rivals Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, securing a place in the FA Cup fourth round.
Check out the best FA Cup betting sites in the UK with Betting.com.
Isak at the double as Magpies march on
In this anticipated Wear-Tyne derby, the first meeting between the teams since March 2016, Eddie Howe’s squad showed their Premier League quality, breaking a streak of seven defeats in their last eight games. The Magpies had endured a difficult December after a glut of injuries caught up with them.
The deadlock was broken after 35 minutes when Sunderland defender Dan Ballard could only redirect Joelinton’s cross into his own net, under pressure from Alexander Isak. Newcastle capitalised on another defensive lapse seconds into the second half, as Miguel Almiron seized the ball from Pierre Ekwah as Sunderland tried to play out from the back, and teed up Isak who calmly slotted home.
Sunderland attempted to mount a comeback, with goalkeeper Martin Dubravka making crucial saves and Alex Pritchard hitting the bar. However, for the most part Newcastle looked in control. Heading into the closing stages Isak released Gordon who was fouled in the box by Ballard. The Swede then converted from the penalty spot to claim his second of the day, securing Newcastle’s first victory over Sunderland since 2011 and instilling a sense of renewed optimism as they travelled back to Tyneside, having covered the 13-mile journey with a sense of accomplishment.
A season which had promised so much had looked as though it could unravel for Newcastle as a series of injuries and their own rapid progress threatened to catch up with them. However, with the likes of Sven Botman heading towards match fitness, Isak fit and scoring, other players set to return and the possibility of new faces in January there is optimism that United can move back up the table. While a Champions League place may be a tough ask they will hope to secure some form of European football as well as making a serious challenge for the FA Cup.
At the time of writing, Newcastle are rated as 10/1 fourth favourites to win the FA Cup with Manchester City favourites at 11/4, ahead of Liverpool, 5/1, and Chelsea, 8/1. Things will become clearer with the fourth round draw and the completion of the third round. As far as the league is concerned, the bookie make Newcastle 9/1 joint 6th favourites for the top four, 2/1 to make the top six and evens to make the top seven. The Magpies host Manchester City on Saturday. Check out our guide before making your picks.
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