Eddie Howe was delighted to finally get the better of Pep Guardiola by leading Newcastle past Manchester City into the fourth round of the League Cup.
Last season’s beaten finalists won 1-0 at St James’ Park before drawing with City’s derby rivals Manchester United – their winners at Wembley in February – at Old Trafford.
It was Magpies boss Howe’s first win in 14 attempts against Guardiola as manager, but that was not his main reason for celebration.
Howe said: “Yeah, my record against him isn’t very good, so it’s nice to win, but the most important thing is that it’s not about me trying to progress in the competition and I’m delighted with the players, delighted with the effort they’re putting in . they gave.
“It was a very difficult game for us in the first half, I thought they played very well. I think we defended very well – we had to do it because we had problems, we didn’t have much rhythm.
“But then the second half was completely different. The balance in the team is much better and I’m happy with how committed everyone is to the game.”
While Howe decided to rest 10 players who started in Sunday’s 8-0 Premier League thrashing of Sheffield United, rival Pep Guardiola made eight changes, although it was the way they used their benches that ultimately in the end it turned out to be decisive.
The Spaniard kept star striker Erling Haaland on the bench and asked substitute Phil Foden to try and salvage the draw while his opponents turned the game around by bringing on Bruno Guimaraes and Anthony Gordon at half-time and reaped the rewards.
Newcastle had already lost to City and Liverpool in the league this season, so a win against one of the big boys was all the more welcome.
Howe said: “The only way to go into these games with more confidence is to win, so hopefully that will stand us in good stead in the future. This shows that we are capable.
“Yes, both teams made changes but all you can do is try to win the game and we did that and I’m delighted with the players.”
The game was decided by Alexander Isak’s 53rd-minute goal at the end of a powerful attack from Joelinton, although City were left kicking themselves for failing to capitalize on their dominance before the break and for failing to mount a further push after it.
Asked if he was disappointed that his side could no longer win the quadruple rather than the treble last season, Guardiola responded with a puzzled expression: “Do you think the goal was to win the quadruple? Honestly, that’s not true.
“We competed very well and are more than pleased to have won the treble. Our expectations are high, but not high enough for us not to settle for it.”
Guardiola decided not to include Haaland in the game as time expired and was happy to defend the decision.
Asked if he was considering sending a frontman, he replied: “No. I thought Kyle (Walker played) a lot of minutes, Erling a lot of minutes. We have a lot of games ahead.
“Maybe the last 10-15 minutes, but I decided not to.”