Rafa Benitez usually surprises with his team selections but for this first Saturday of 2018, the NUFC boss was more surprising than usual.

After playing a reserve team last season when exiting the FA Cup against Oxford, then the same in the League Cup this campaign when Forest visited, nobody could have predicted the team that played today.

Apart from protecting Karl Darlow with Rob Elliot out injured and resting DeAndre Yedlin, this was a team against Luton that pretty much all Newcastle fans would see as first choice.

Only moments after Perez notched the first goal however, many fans at first missed a substitution as they celebrated.

Jamaal Lascelles going off after half an hour and Isaac Hayden coming on as a makeshift centre-back.

However, Rafa Benitez moved to reassure supporters after the game, saying that taking the Newcastle Captain off was simply a precaution and he should be fine for Swansea next Saturday.

The United boss also says he is hoping to play a similarly strong team in the fourth round but that it ‘depends on injuries and where we are in the league.’

Well, Newcastle only have the home match with Swansea and then away game at Man City, before the fourth round FA Cup weekend of Saturday 27 January.

With an important home Premier League match with Burnley on Wednesday 31 January, it is difficult to see how Rafa will be comfortable playing such a strong team once again in the fourth round, unless of course his team beat Swansea AND Man City in the meantime…

Rafa Benitez:

“Jamaal Lascelles is fine.

“It was just a precaution (to substitute him just after the first goal) because he was complaining a little bit about his abductor and so we then we decided to make the substitution.

“I said in the (pre-match) news conference we wanted to approach the game with a strong team to make sure we were going through.

“First half we finished really well. We were 3-0 up, maybe it’s harder to keep concentration in the second half.

“In the second half we needed more experience to manage these games, keep the ball and then a fourth goal would have really finished it, but we couldn’t do it.

“I’m pleased with everything,  the goals we scored and the way we managed the game.

“Maybe because of that, and going three goals up, we relaxed second half and gave them the belief that they could score and so  it because more difficult.

“But we go through and the fans enjoyed this emotional game.

“We want to go as far as we can.

“I don’t want to lie…it was important to go through and play a strong team  – hopefully the next one (we will be able to play a strong team) too, we will see about the next one.

“I wanted to be sure we did not have any (nasty) surprises and it was important to send a message we wanted to do well – but it (team selection in fourth round) depends on injuries and where we are in the league.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 3 Luton 1

Goals – Newcastle Perez 30, 36 Shelvey 39

Goals – Luton Hylton 49

Possession was Luton 51% Newcastle 49%

Total shots were  Luton 9 Newcastle 25

Shots on target were Luton 2 Newcastle 7

Corners were  Luton 7 Newcastle 7

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Newcastle United:

Woodman, Manquillo, Lascelles (Hayden 31), Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Merino (Saivet 80), Shelvey (Diame 71), Murphy, Perez, Gayle

Unused Subs:

Darlow,  Joselu, Haidara, Aarons

Crowd: 47,069 (Approx 7,500 Luton)

(To read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the FA Cup win go HERE)

(Go HERE to watch the goals and highlights from Newcastle 3 Luton 1)

  • Paul Patterson

    Phew, that’s a relief. Should be ok for Swansea then.

    • TheNutJob

      or there`s a £30m bid in for him

      • Paul Patterson

        You thinking Southampton to replace Van Djik? ;-)

        • TheNutJob

          No he wouldn`t leave the Toon

          • Paul Patterson

            He might for an extra 40k a week and Ashley would certainly sell at 30m.

          • MadMag83

            Ashley would sell for £20m, pocket the cash (again) and go back into hiding

      • Wor Lass


  • robbersdog

    Job done. Apart from the goalkeeper (Woodman did just about OK, but I’d prefer Darlow or Elliott in the Prem), I’d like it if Rafa played the same team against Swansea.

    • FairsCup69

      Bloke behind me was on Woodman’s back from early on. Unbelievable. I’d like to see more of the lad personally.

  • Wor Lass

    Thank Clarko Lascelles is OK.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    It is more important to win a F.A. Cup game than next week we want to go to Wembley and win the cup the quicker this site gets a life the better. Been a great day for Newcastle perhaps a sad day for the usual suspects on here but take it on the chin. Draw Monday night seven fifteen B B C Two cannot wait counting the hours down Wembley here we come well done Rafa.

    • Paul Patterson

      You’re having a laugh about the two games.
      However, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be winning both . .

      • gallowgate26

        Monkseaton Magpies is either a WUM, or a mackem. Just read the last 5 posts and you’ll see what I mean….

        • Paul Patterson

          Yeah. It’s not impossible to win the FA cup but the planets would certainly have to align. PL safety is paramount this season. Plenty time for dreaming later, if Rafa gets time to build a side.

        • Monkseaton Magpies

          Been to more Newcastle games than anyone on this site and support the club unlike many on this site.

    • nufcslf

      That’s pure madness and way more than one step beyond. This squad doesn’t stand a chance of winning the FA Cup. Next Saturday is vital and a win might be one step closer to your friend Cashley f**king off.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        So Wigan won the cup recently beating Man City in the final. Over seventy teams have won a cup since we did many of them small teams Leciester won the league recently so anything is possible except people on this site to be happy.

  • HappyToons

    It would be nice to get an away trip and 8k tickets and win. Please not Boro at home as don’t want 10k smoggies giving it large in town!

  • StevieB

    What happened to the great announcement on the 6th and the BBC interview exclusive 😂😂😂😂

  • MadMag83

    Play a strong side against Swansea, rest them for Citeh as well get beaten anyway, then play the strongest side for the next round of the cup! So long as we don’t get a tough draw