Newcastle's season reaches new low with FA Cup humiliation

·4 min read

LONDON — At least Newcastle’s fight to stay in the English Premier League won’t be hampered by a deep run in the FA Cup.

In further embarrassment for a club with the world’s richest owners, Saudi-controlled Newcastle was beaten by third-tier Cambridge United 1-0 in the biggest shock yet in the third round of the FA Cup.

The cup provided no respite for Eddie Howe’s beleaguered team, which is in next-to-last place in the Premier League and has just one win in all competitions this season. Newcastle was even eliminated from the English League Cup in its first game in that competition, back in August.

At least that was against a fellow top-flight club in Burnley. On Saturday, it was a team in 16th place in the League Cup delivering the humiliation, with Joe Ironside — a striker who grew up idolizing Newcastle great Alan Shearer — scoring the 56th-minute winner at St. James’ Park.

“I am a bit lost for words,” Ironside said. “It panned out how I dreamed about it last night.”

Now backed with more resources than any other soccer club after being bought out by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in October, Newcastle has been able to attract England right back Kieran Trippier to start what could be a month of heavy spending in the January transfer window.

Trippier even started against Cambridge, a day after signing from Atletico Madrid, but couldn’t make a difference in what will go down as one of the biggest financial mismatches in soccer history.

In a dramatic finish, Newcastle striker Joelinton had a header from a corner tipped over the crossbar acrobatically by Bulgarian goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov in stoppage time.

“Ultimately, we found a goalkeeper in superb form and a team that defended for their lives and we couldn’t break them down,” Howe said. “I don’t think there was anything wrong with our attitude ... I just hope the game doesn’t damage our players’ confidence.”

SIXTH-TIER SHOCKER

There will be a team from the sixth tier in the draw for the last 32.

Playing an opponent 79 places higher in English soccer's pyramid, Kidderminster Harriers rallied to beat Reading 2-1 and spark a pitch invasion by its fans after 15 nervy minutes of second-half stoppage time.

It was Kidderminster's first third-round match in eight years.

In a less sizeable upset in the round that sees Premier League clubs enter the world’s oldest knockout competition, second-tier Huddersfield came from behind to beat top-flight Burnley 2-1.

Josh Koroma and Matty Pearson scored in the final 16 minutes at Turf Moor, where Burnley manager Sean Dyche wasn’t present after contracting the coronavirus.

RANIERI'S RETURN

Watford manager Claudio Ranieri made a return to Leicester, which he led to an unlikely Premier League title in 2016. It didn't go so well.

Leicester began its title defense with a 4-1 win, with the player who scored a long-range winner in the final against Chelsea last season — Youri Tielemans — starting off the scoring by converting a penalty. James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Marc Albrighton also scored for Leicester.

The match was delayed for seven minutes in the second half because of floodlight failure. Players hung about the field as fans shone light inside the stadium by using torches on their phones.

SURVIVING SCARES

A number of Premier League teams needed to mount comebacks to see off lower-league opponents.

An inspired second-half display by winger Michael Olise helped Crystal Palace rally to beat second-tier Millwall 2-1.

The 20-year-old Olise has mostly been used as a substitute in his first season at Palace since joining from second-tier Reading but should see more game time in the upcoming month because key Palace forwards are competing in the African Cup of Nations. He was instrumental in his team’s recovery from falling behind early because of goalkeeper Jack Butland’s mistake, equalizing, then setting up Jean-Philippe Mateta's headed winner in the 58th.

Olise also appeared to be struck by a bottle thrown from the crowd while he was taking a corner, while British broadcaster ITV picked up homophobic abuse by fans aimed toward Palace midfielder Conor Gallagher.

Brighton was losing at second-tier West Bromwich Albion 1-0 before a host player was sent off in the 69th. Jakub Moder's 81st-minute equalizer took the game to extra time, where Neal Maupay scored for a 2-1 win for Brighton.

THE FAVORITES

Chelsea romped to 5-1 over non-league Chesterfield, with Romelu Lukaku among the scorers for the European champions at the end of a week when he apologized for going public with his unhappiness at the club.

Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Andreas Christensen and Hakim Ziyech also scored for Chelsea.

The third-round stage began with Manchester City having no problem seeing off fourth-tier Swindon 4-1 on Friday, while Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham will be in action across Sunday and Monday.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

Steve Douglas, The Associated Press

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