A fine, controlled volley form Josh Dasilva – the best player on the pitch – was enough to send Brentford into their first ever domestic cup semi-final. Newcastle, who were as uninspired as we’ve come to expect, have not reached a League Cup semi-final since 1975.
Both sides had good chances in a first half that saw Brentford in the ascendancy, Ethan Pinnock and Saman Ghoddos missing Brentford’s and Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser Newcastle’s.
But after half-time the home side maintained their level while their visitors' dropped, and on 66 minutes they fashioned what proved to be the winning goal, Dasilva arriving into the box on the burst to punch Sergi Canos’ cross past Karl Darlow.
Steve Bruce did his best to remedy matters from the bench, sending on all the strikers available to him, but his midfield struggled to impose themselves, and Brentford saw out the game with few alarms or surprises.
So they march on to the last four and deservedly so – they played with far greater energy, cohesion and zest than their more illustrious opponents – while Newcastle must settle back in to doing just enough to avoid relegation, in the most mundane way possible.
Newcastle are on course to secure their Premier League status for another season but the feeling persists that things should be better for them than they are – they have some decent players, particularly going forward, yet watching them is an ordeal more often than not.
And today was no different. Facing a side a division below and with their best midfielder on the bench after injury, their best striker rested, and two of their back four also left out, they ought to have taken charge of the game, yet they did not. Every now and again, they did something good - in the first half, in the second they did almost nothing - but that’s not the same as dictating the play.
Given the club haven't reached a League Cup semi-final in 45 years, this is even less explicable than it would be otherwise. Steve Bruce showed he was taking the game seriously, referencing that fact in his pre-match interview and picking his strongest available side. But he cannot seem to get his players playing properly, and though the board will be happy that he is still earning the club Premier League money, when they continue to be this unenjoyable to watch, the fans will be wondering what the point of it all is.
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MAN OF THE MATCH
Josh Dasilva (Brentford) - His fluid, relaxed dribbling was the highlight of the first half and his fine finish the best aspect of the second.
Brentford: Daniels 6, Fosu 6, Pinnock 6, Sorensen 7, Thompson 6, Dasilva 8, Janelt 6, Emiliano 5, Ghoddos 6, Forss 5, Canos 7. Subs: Norgaard 6, Toney 6, Jensen 6.
Newcastle United: Darlow 6, Yedlin 6, Hayden 6, Clark 6, Lewis 5, Shelvey 5, Longstaff 4, Murphy 4, Fraser 6,, Wilson 6, Almiron 3. Subs: Gayle 6, Joelinton 6, Carroll 6.
Brentford have reached their first ever domestic cup semi-final, winning a quarter-final at the fifth attempt.
6’ - And the corner is a goodun, hit hard and flat towards the near post ... and here's Pinnock! But though he's up earliest, he can't direct his header which flies over the bar. That was an extremely presentable chance.
21’ - Better from Newcastle, Longstaff collecting a loose ball and immediately guiding it wide to Fraser who, though he's on the left, swerves in a tremendous cross which Sorensen, on the slide, just about nicks ... hard enough to take the ball away from Wilson, who taps home fresh air.
23’ - Now we're talking! Canos wins the ball back high up the pitch and sends Dasilva away down the right. His cross is a goodun too, but perhaps Ghoddos, on the far side of the box, isn't expecting it, because he bungles his finish into the ground and watches it leap up and clip the top of the bar. That's the closest we've come to an opener.
26’ - Aaaaarrrrggghhh! The corner goes long to the back post, where Pinnock pulls away - this is move of preference, I believe - and heads back across for Canos. This has got to be 1-0 ... but from five yards out, he flicks his header wide! On the Brentford bench, they canos believe it, and utter various words in Anglo-Saxon.
66’ - LOVELY GOAL! Brentford 1-0 Newcastle (Dasilva) Canos does really well down the left, burrowing into space before digging out a bobbling ball to lift a cross into the middle ... where Dasilva arrives on the burst, smacking a side-footed volley under Darlow. That's a very good finish from the best player on the park.
77’ - Brentford almost make it safe! A long through is flicked on to the back post by Pinnock, where Norgaard slides in, and Darlow does brilliantly to block at point-blank range! ¿m