Hometown hero Sean Longstaff's priceless double fired Newcastle to a first League Cup final in 47 years at an ecstatic St James' Park on Tuesday night.
Holding a 1-0 lead from last week’s semi-final first-leg at Southampton, Eddie Howe’s side were 2-0 ahead within 21 minutes on Tyneside in front of a delighted crowd of 51,975 to book a long-awaited trip to Wembley, where they will face Manchester United or Nottingham Forest.
Che Adams’ 29th-minute thunderbolt – the first goal Nick Pope had conceded in 931 minutes of action – meant there was still work to be done, particularly after Bruno Guimaraes’ late dismissal following a challenge on substitute Sam Edozie, but they made it without further mishap for a 2-1 win on the night and 3-1 on aggregate.
Revitalised by Howe's leadership and the financial muscle of a largely Saudi-backed ownership group, the club are on the up again as they sit third in the Premier League.
Longstaff does not want this to be a one off. “It is amazing. If you’d have said to anyone 12 months ago what was going to happen, they would have laughed,” he told Sky Sports.
“It is a really special, not just for me but for every person from Newcastle, it has been such a long time since there has been a night like this.
“Since the takeover we have brought in quality players. It is really special and emotional for me what we are building here. We don’t want to stop, we want to have nights like this every season. It is just amazing.”
Newcastle doubled their aggregate advantage within five minutes when Guimaraes’ quick feet in the middle of the pitch allowed him to spread the ball to the right and after Kieran Trippier slid a pass into Longstaff’s feet, he took a touch before firing low past keeper Gavin Bazunu.
Longstaff could have added to his tally within three minutes, but dragged a left-footed attempt wide from Guimaraes’ inviting pass as the hosts laid siege to Bazunu’s goal.
The visitors gradually settled into a period of possession, albeit deep inside their own half with full-back Kyle Walker-Peters threatening sporadically on the break, but with little constructive support.
Their task increased further in difficulty with 21 minutes gone when, after Joe Willock had combined with Joelinton wide on the left, he fed Miguel Almiron, whose pull-back was perfectly weighted for Longstaff to drill home his second of the night.
Adams gave the Saints hope when he smashed a long-range effort past the stunned Pope and for the first time in the game, Howe’s men looked mildly uncomfortable.
However having restored a measure of order before the break, the Magpies returned knowing they were just 45 minutes from Wembley and determined not to allow a Southampton side bolstered by the half-time additions of Romain Perraud and Romeo Lavia any further encouragement.
In a scrappy start to the second half, neither side was able to exert any genuine pressure, although Saints playmaker James Ward-Prowse was belatedly making an impression from a more advanced starting point.
Howe replaced his entire frontline on the hour, sending on Allan Saint-Maximin, Alexander Isak and Jacob Murphy for Willock, Wilson and Almiron, but after former Magpie Adam Armstrong had been denied by Pope, Longstaff tested Bazunu with a well-struck volley.
Bruno’s night ended in tears after referee Paul Tierney was advised to review his challenge on Edozie, prompting a late flurry in front of Pope, but his club’s hopes of ending a wait for domestic silverware which dates back to the 1955 FA Cup final ultimately remained intact.