Saudi-owned Newcastle beats Southampton, closes on cup final

Newcastle is close to reaching a first cup final since being bought by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund.

Joelinton scored a 73rd-minute winner as Newcastle beat Southampton 1-0 away in the first leg of the English League Cup semifinals on Tuesday.

The second leg is next week at Newcastle's St. James' Park, where the team is unbeaten in all competitions this season. Southampton will also have to score against the best defense in English soccer, with Newcastle having now kept 11 clean sheets in its last 12 games.

Fueled by the spending of its Saudi owners since their takeover 18 months ago and shrewd coaching by manager Eddie Howe, the team from the northeast has rapidly grown into a force this season. It is also challenging for Champions League qualification, sitting in third place in the Premier League heading into the second half of the campaign.

Joelinton had had a goal disallowed for handball and also blazed over from close range before the Brazilian midfielder finally gave Newcastle the lead, tapping into an empty net after substitute Alexander Isak had beaten his marker down the right and cut into the area to deliver the cross.

Southampton substitute Adam Armstrong bundled a scruffy finish into Newcastle's net a few minutes later but the goal was ruled out after a video review, with the striker having inadvertently used his right arm to direct the ball home.

The hosts finished with 10 men at St. Mary's stadium after center back Duje Ćaleta-Car was shown a second yellow card in the 86th minute.

Both teams are looking to end long trophy droughts. While Southampton’s one and only piece of major silverware is the FA Cup in 1976, Newcastle has to go back even longer for a big domestic trophy — the FA Cup in 1955.

Nottingham Forest hosts Manchester United on Wednesday in the first leg of the other semifinal matchup.

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

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Steve Douglas, The Associated Press