Newcastle see off Blackburn with Joselu and Ayoze Pérez extra-time flourish

In word and deed Rafael Benítez gives the impression the FA Cup is a competition Newcastle can do without. His players’ commitment to victory at Blackburn suggested otherwise. The Premier League strugglers lost a two goal lead and two central defenders to injury before securing their place in round four with a spirited, clinical performance at Ewood Park.

Newcastle were taken to extra time – an exertion both managers would rather have avoided – by Tony Mowbray’s determined Championship side as Adam Armstrong and Darragh Lenihan cancelled out an early advantage provided by two academy graduates. The visitors then lost Ciaran Clark plus his replacement, Jamaal Lascelles, to injury before extra-time goals from Joselu and Ayoze Pérez brought merited reward plus a welcome shot of confidence.

“It was important win and important to score four goals,” said Benítez, who will discover in the coming days the extent of Clark’s knee injury and his captain’s hamstring problem. “The players care. Their effort and commitment was there and they managed the game really well in extra time. To react they way we did, you have to be really pleased as a manager.”

Benítez made eight changes for the replay but his makeshift side settled immediately and took the lead with 56 seconds on the clock. For Newcastle’s two 21-year-old central midfielders, Sean Longstaff and Callum Roberts, it was a night to savour as they both scored their first goals in senior stripes.

Longstaff opened an entertaining tie following strong centre-forward play by Joselu, who held off two home defenders before finding the young midfielder in space and directly in front of the Blackburn goal. With the Rovers defence backing off Longstaff accepted the invitation to shoot from distance and was rewarded when his finish deflected off Amari’i Bell and flew beyond the wrong-footed goalkeeper David Raya. It was the third fastest goal in the FA Cup this season.

Newcastle doubled their lead when the influential Jacob Murphy latched on to Joselu’s flicked header and, despite appearing offside, beat Ryan Nyambe easily before forcing a save from Raya with an angled drive. Raya’s parry rebounded to Murphy. He beat Nyambe once again and delivered an inviting cross from the right that Roberts, with a controlled volley, steered inside Raya’s near post.

At that stage the visitors were coasting. By half-time they were creaking. Armstrong became the third Newcastle academy graduate on the scoresheet, albeit for his new club, when Danny Graham prised open the visiting defence with ease. Holding off Federico Fernández, the former Sunderland striker released Armstrong into the penalty area with a perfectly weighted pass that he floated over Freddie Woodman as the young Newcastle keeper raced out to close the angle.

The flow of the tie turned in favour of Blackburn who, despite missing four defenders themselves through injury, grew into the contest. Lenihan was close to an equaliser with a towering header from Harrison Reed’s corner. Newcastle failed to heed the warning and the pair combined again seconds before the break. Reed delivered to the far post where Lenihan powered home a header into the top corner despite the presence of two Newcastle defenders. Woodman’s disgust was plain as he exited for the interval.

Benítez would share his keeper’s anger, and not only over the disappearance of their early lead. His hopes of avoiding injury to key players lay in ruins within minutes of the restart. Lascelles was summoned from the bench during the interval with Clark hobbling. Within three minutes he pulled up with a hamstring problem but played on for a further eight minutes before being substituted. Newcastle’s captain and manager exchanged words as the former headed down the tunnel and potentially out of a crucial period of the league campaign.

Extra time brought more injury worries for Newcastle with Hayden and Fabian Schär both requiring lengthy treatment. They survived a scare when Rovers substitute Bradley Dack missed a glorious chance with only Woodman to beat but emerged victorious thanks to clinical finishes either side of the break. Joselu was offside when Schär shot from distance and Raya parried the ball back into his path. He converted expertly and, the offside missed, Newcastle were ahead once more.

They were finally safe when Pérez was released clear down the right by Matt Ritchie and he produced a rising finish that Raya was powerless to stop.

Stoke stunned by Shrews

Nathan Jones’s first home game as Stoke City manager ended in a remarkable FA Cup collapse, with the Championship side going down 3-2 at home to Shrewsbury. The League One side were 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go but James Bolton, Fejiri Okenabirhie and Josh Laurent scored late goals to secure the Shrews a fourth-round tie against Premier League Wolves. Jones’s old side also went out of the competition, Atdhe Nuhiu scoring the only goal of the game as Sheffield Wednesday beat Luton Town at Kenilworth Road to set up a fourth-round meeting with Chelsea.