EPL

Super sub Harvey Barnes heralded by Newcastle boss Eddie Howe

By Sports Desk March 30, 2024

Eddie Howe praised saviour Harvey Barnes after he came off the bench to drag Newcastle from the jaws of defeat to a remarkable Premier League victory over West Ham.

The Magpies were trailing 3-1 at St James’ Park when £38million summer signing Barnes was introduced as a 67th-minute replacement for injured substitute Miguel Almiron and 23 madcap minutes later, he scored the second of two goals to secure a stunning 4-3 win.

Head coach Howe said: “Harvey deserves that. The thing with Harvey is that he’s a goalscorer. He does score goals. You look at his statistics and his record, and it’s incredible really for a wide player.

“You just look at the amount of goals he got last season for Leicester. We felt, signing him, that he could get similar numbers for us. He’s just been struck by injuries, and he’s had a difficult start to his Newcastle career.

“But the quality is undoubtedly there and I thought the two finishes today were typical Harvey. It wasn’t easy to score the first one – although it was a one-on-one, he had a really small part of the goal to aim at and took it brilliantly.

“Then the second one, I hope it will live on for a long time because at 3-3, the ball drops to him on his right foot, but he still has so much to do. It’s a great goal.”

Alexander Isak had fired the Magpies into a sixth-minute lead from the penalty spot, by Michail Antonio’s equaliser and a second from the impressive Mohammed Kudus had the visitors 2-1 ahead at the break.

Jarrod Bowen’s strike three minutes after the restart looked to have won the game, but Isak repeated the dose from the spot with 13 minutes remaining after substitute Kalvin Phillips had tripped Anthony Gordon – who was later sent off for a second bookable offence – to set up a chaotic finish.

Barnes levelled with seven minutes remaining, but saved the best for last when he smashed an unstoppable 90th-minute drive past substitute keeper Lukasz Fabianski to complete the comeback.

Howe said: “It was a brilliant advert for the Premier League, I think, a really good advert for the league in terms of the drama, the changes in the game and the flows in momentum.”

The only down side for Howe was the addition of skipper Jamaal Lascelles, Tino Livramento and Almiron to to an already extensive injury list, while Gordon will be suspended for Tuesday’s clash with former club Everton.

He was at least able to reflect on a spirited fightback and he headed home, in stark contrast to opposite number David Moyes, who had thrown England international Phillips into the mix in an attempt to stem the flow.

Moyes said: “I thought an extra midfield player would give us a bit more control in the middle of the pitch at that time. But obviously it didn’t work.

“At the time, I felt that they were slightly the better team. We were 2-1, we got 3-1 but from that point onwards, we needed to defend well and be stronger and be harder to play against.

“But hey, we scored three, they scored four, we lose the game. We did a lot of good things, certainly going forward. Our attacking play as very good.”

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    Champions Manchester City moved back to the top of the Premier League with an emphatic 5-1 victory over relegation battlers Luton on Saturday.

    A fortuitous early own goal from Daiki Hashioka set the hosts on the way at the Etihad Stadium before a Mateo Kovacic screamer and Erling Haaland penalty effectively secured victory after the break.

    Plucky Luton defended stoically throughout and earned consolation through Ross Barkley but Jeremy Doku and Josko Gvardiol wrapped up the scoring.

    The result took City above Arsenal and Liverpool at the summit, putting pressure on their title rivals ahead of Sunday’s fixtures.

    Victory was almost as routine as it comes, with City not getting anywhere near top gear in a one-sided cruise.

    Rodri got his wish for a rest as Pep Guardiola made six changes following Tuesday’s pulsating draw at Real Madrid.

    With the Spanish giants visiting the Etihad next week, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva and John Stones also sat out – the latter not even in the matchday squad – while goalkeeper Ederson replaced Stefan Ortega.

    Kevin De Bruyne returned after illness while Kyle Walker was on the bench after recovering from injury.

    Luton’s task was daunting enough without the outrageous slice of misfortune that saw them concede the opener inside two minutes.

    Thomas Kaminski did well to save after Haaland had been played through by De Bruyne and Doku’s follow-up was also blocked.

    Haaland had City’s third attempt as the ball looped up but his acrobatic volley was heading well wide until it took a huge deflection off Hashioka’s head and ended up in the net.

    With the luckless Hashioka requiring treatment from the forceful blow, it was apparent the Hatters were facing a long afternoon.

    Yet, to the battling visitors’ credit, they defended with great determination.

    Kaminski parried a powerful effort from Gvardiol before saving comfortably from Matheus Nunes, De Bruyne and Ruben Dias.

    Haaland put over a chance at the back post and Nunes shaved the upright with an effort that ran across goal.

    De Bruyne forced a good save from Kaminski just before the interval and Dias sent a long-range effort narrowly wide early in the second half.

    Julian Alvarez also missed the target with a shot on the turn but City finally doubled the lead with a Kovavic thunderbolt just after the hour.

    The Croatian had a first strike deflected wide but made no mistake from the resulting corner, hitting an unstoppable effort as the ball bounced along the edge of the area.

    Luton responded with their first meaningful attack, and Fred Onyedinma pulled the ball back for Cauley Woodrow, but the substitute fired against the bar.

    It proved a short-lived foray into City territory, with normal service soon resumed and Doku winning a penalty after tricking and being brought down by Onyedinma.

    Haaland calmly sent Kaminski the wrong way to register his 31st goal of the season but only his second in six outings.

    Barkley robbed Nunes to pull one back but City, despite taking off a frustrated-looking De Bruyne, finished with a flourish.

    Doku claimed their fourth after weaving through the area in the 87th minute and Gvardiol followed up his fine strike against Real with another stunner in time added on.

  • Eddie Howe underlines Alexander Isak’s importance to Newcastle after Spurs win Eddie Howe underlines Alexander Isak’s importance to Newcastle after Spurs win

    Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has warned Newcastle they would have to start again if they sold star striker Alexander Isak this summer.

    The 24-year-old Sweden international, the Magpies’ £63million record signing, has been linked with both Arsenal and Tottenham in recent weeks amid the perception that the Saudi-backed club may have to trade to comply with profit and sustainability rules.

    Isak enhanced his blossoming reputation further with a superb double in a 4-0 Premier League victory over Champions League-chasing Spurs at St James’ Park on Saturday to take his tally for an injury-interrupted season to 21.

    Asked about the need to retain his services, head coach Howe said: “We are trying to build a team, we are trying to grow everything, really, upwards and to do that as quickly as possible and as efficiently as you can, you need to keep your best players, otherwise you enter a different period where you go into transition and you have to start again.

    “Your top players, the elite ones, are so difficult to recruit, they’re so difficult to find, so when we get them, we’ve got to try to keep them.”

    Isak left Micky van de Ven sitting on his backside to open the scoring on the half-hour and when Anthony Gordon did the same two minutes later, the visitors were in trouble.

    Isak’s equally accomplished 51st-minute finish put the result beyond doubt and Fabian Schar added the flourish at the death with a thumping header on a day when the Magpies’ game-plan worked to perfection.

    For long periods, they were content to allow Spurs possession – they had just a 27 per cent share – and back themselves both to deny them clear-cut chances and to hit them on the break, and Howe could not have asked his players to execute his instructions any more comprehensively.

    Asked how good Isak could be, Howe said: “For me, he’s so exciting to work with, he’s got so many facets to his game we can explore and try to make better.

    “First and foremost, he has the undeniable quality that he wants to score, he needs to score – that’s a great characteristic for any striker to have.

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    It proved a testing day for Ange Postecoglou’s men, who were trounced 6-1 in the corresponding fixture last season before his arrival, although the Australian played down the significance of that result.

    Postecoglou said: “I think there are other explanations beyond that as to why we didn’t perform. Some of it is down to the opposition, some of it is just down to us.

    “We didn’t really get a control of the game, like we have been, and we paid a price for that.”

  • Killer instinct of matchwinner Sammie Szmodics lacking for Leeds – Daniel Farke Killer instinct of matchwinner Sammie Szmodics lacking for Leeds – Daniel Farke

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    Leeds dominated the Championship encounter at Elland Road but could not turn possession into goals.

    Farke’s side remain third in the table when a win would have seen them seize the initiative from top two Leicester and Ipswich.

    Farke said: “When you face a side like Blackburn with a player like Szmodics, he showed the quality which we didn’t show today and he needed just one chance to score.

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    “We didn’t put the ball into the net. If you don’t score, you can’t win the game.”

    Despite his players missing the chance to steal a march on their rivals, Farke refused to put the blame on them.

    He said: “It’s up to me if we don’t score – to find solutions. I have to work with them so that in the next game we create more chances.

    “It’s up to us in training to work on our efficiency and create more chances. Today we have created more than enough chances to score. I’m not the guy to point the finger at the players when we don’t score.

    “If a team fights to survive and fights against relegation, if they try to annoy us with time wasting and whatever, it’s nothing that I can influence.”

    Szmodics dealt the killer blow with a cool finish eight minutes from time as the visitors went route one.

    Sam Gallagher headed on a long ball from Aynsley Pears before Tyrhys Dolan turned and fed Szmodics and he did the rest with a composed finish past Illan Meslier.

    The Leeds goalkeeper had saved from Szmodics with Blackburn’s only effort of the first period, while Pears had saved from Crysencio Summerville, Wilfried Gnonto and Connor Roberts as the home side failed to make their dominance pay.

    Blackburn head coach John Eustace was full of praise for his side.

    He said: “I was very proud of the effort the boys have given me since I came in, it has been outstanding.

    “To come here and play like we did was great. We had a game plan without the ball. I am delighted with the effort and very proud of them.”

    Blackburn bounced back from a 5-0 defeat at Bristol City in midweek and that resilience was what pleased Eustace the most.

    He added: “Wednesday was a bit of a blip. That certainly wasn’t a team that I have been a part of. We have been very difficult to beat.

    “It’s very important that we keep working hard, sticking together. We have three games left and we still need points.”

    Eustace praised Szmodics, adding: “Sammie, without his goals this season, we really would have been in trouble. The rest of the group have created those chances for him.

    “Since I’ve been here he has been magnificent. To score 30 goals in the Championship is a fantastic effort.”

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