Southampton were unable to stage a second-leg revival as ten-man Newcastle prevailed in the Carabao Cup semi-final to reach their first major final since 1999 at a raucous St James’ Park.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Saints made the worst possible start as Sean Longstaff struck twice inside the first 21 minutes to extend the hosts’ aggregate lead to 3-0.
The home crowd were roaring their team to Wembley, but Ché Adams thumped in a spectacular reply before half time to prompt a far more subdued atmosphere.
The nerves were kicking in, particularly when Saints began to dominate the second-half possession, but Adam Armstrong was denied by Nick Pope from a golden chance with 18 minutes left.
There was still hope when Bruno Guimarães was dismissed ten minutes later, but James Ward-Prowse sent the resulting free-kick into the wall and Newcastle saw off seven minutes of added time to book their place in the final.
Nathan Jones made four changes to his side that started the first leg at St Mary’s, including a debut for James Bree at right wing-back and a first start since his return from loan for Jan Bednarek at the heart of a back five.
Elsewhere, Adams was partnered by Armstrong in a two-pronged attack, as Duje Ćaleta-Car, Moussa Djenepo, Mislav Oršić and Sékou Mara all dropped out, leaving Lyanco as the sole survivor from Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup fourth-round win over Blackpool.
It was imperative Saints weathered the early storm inside the St James’ Park cauldron, which was packed to the rafters half an hour before kick-off.
Ward-Prowse’s attempts to put the hosts off their stride by forcing them to attack their preferred Gallowgate End in the first half rather than the second did not deter the Geordies, who started like a house on fire.
Callum Wilson nipped across the near post to prod wide from a low cross from the right even before Longstaff made the early breakthrough from an attack built from the same side.
Captain Kieran Trippier found the midfielder in space in the box, with Longstaff afforded too much time to take a touch and drill in the opener, low to Gavin Bazunu’s right from 15 yards.
The Saints goalkeeper looked uncomfortable from a couple of subsequent corners after Lyanco threw himself in the way of Joelinton’s shot as Newcastle kept the tempo high.
There were opportunities for Saints to hit back, but Newcastle-born Armstrong scuffed a bouncing ball into the arms of Pope, while Kyle Walker-Peters was unable to pick out a teammate from a promising crossing position down the left.
Otherwise it was one-way traffic in favour of a buoyant home team, who doubled their lead on 21 minutes.
When Joe Willock escaped down the left touchline, Miguel Almirón sprinted beyond him, took the ball in his stride and crossed low for Longstaff, whose run from deep was not picked up and whose finish was decisive, first time and into the net.
It took a collision between Lyanco and Joelinton, who stayed down to receive treatment, to help Saints reset, as Jones called an impromptu team talk on the touchline.
It seemed to have the desired effect, as Adams pulled one back with a bolt from the blue eight minutes after Newcastle’s second.
Saints’ appetite to press the hosts high forced a stray pass picked up by the striker, who took one touch to control it, a second to nudge it out of his feet and a third to unleash a ferocious low drive from 25 yards that flew past the rarely beaten Pope, whose run of ten consecutive clean sheets had come to an end in style.
There was little by way of celebration from the Scotsman, who instantly ran to retrieve the ball from Pope’s net whilst pointing to the travelling fans up in the gods. Adams knew there was plenty more work to do, but Saints had a foothold.
Their cause was not helped by an injury to Walker-Peters soon after, replaced by Samuel Edozie, but Saints had proved they could breach the country’s meanest defence and at least had reason for some second-half optimism.
Jones’s plan to continue his side’s upturn in fortunes was a double substitution at the interval, with Romain Perraud and Roméo Lavia introduced in place of Lyanco and Carlos Alcaraz, meaning Perraud and Bree would operate as full-backs in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Adams flanked by Edozie and Armstrong.
The partisan home crowd that had greeted the Newcastle players at kick-off were growing increasingly anxious as Saints made an encouraging start to the second period, so much so that Eddie Howe felt it necessary to make a triple change on the hour to revive his team.
Saints stayed in the ascendancy, but for all their possession there was a lack of threat in the final third, with Pope not called upon since Adams’s rocket fizzed past him until Armstrong spurned a glorious chance in the 72nd minute.
From another spell of sustained possession, Lavia spotted the former Newcastle man peeling in behind the defence and threaded a beautiful ball through, but Pope was out quickly and Armstrong could not get under the ball to lift it over the imposing keeper, who saved with his legs.
It felt like a big moment, and one that subsequently woke Newcastle from their slumber. Bazunu made a flying save from the hat-trick hunting Longstaff before denying substitute Alexander Isak with an outstretched boot on the rebound.
Then Guimarães clipped the outside of Bazunu’s right-hand post with a curling effort from distance as the hosts attempted to kill off the tie once and for all.
Instead they shot themselves in the foot, as Guimarães upended Edozie with a foul not only in Ward-Prowse territory but one that was punished with a red card after referee Paul Tierney consulted the pitchside monitor and upgraded his initial yellow, judging the Brazilian had stamped down on Edozie’s ankle in trying to stop the winger.
Ward-Prowse could scarcely have had a longer wait to take a free-kick, but ultimately the Newcastle wall stood tall, prompting cheers as loud as a goal as another chance came and went for Jones’s side to equalise on the night.
Lavia blazed over from a stoppage-time corner from which Bazunu was forward, but Saints’ much-improved second-half showing was not rewarded with the goal it deserved to really jangle the nerves of the expectant locals.