Newcastle United made a positive return to competitive action with victory over Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening, with Eddie Howe’s side running out 1-0 winners to clinch their place in the last eight of the competition.
Having overcome Crystal Palace in the last round via the dreaded penalty shootout, the Magpies were able to settle matters in 90 minutes this time around at St James’ Park, with an own goal from opposition defender Adam Smith ultimately proving the difference on the night.
Howe had seemingly been vindicated in his decision to name a strong starting lineup for the visit of his former employers, with it looking as if the Tynesiders could well be serious contenders to end their 53-year barren run with regards to silverware.
One notable figure who particularly impressed following his return to the side from World Cup duty was Bruno Guimaraes, with the midfield maestro recovering from his Brazil heartache to produce a typically eye-catching performance in the centre of the park.
The former Lyon man was yet again the real engine for the hosts having won 12 of his 19 ground duels and earned four fouls, while also offering a real threat in an attacking sense after completing five of his seven dribbles.
The 25-year-old was not the only figure to have produced a standout performance against the Cherries, however, with summer signing Sven Botman having once again illustrated his growing importance to the team.
A player who is already making a “huge difference” in the northeast – according to journalist Josh Bunting – the towering Dutchman has helped to solidify Newcastle’s backline this term, shipping just 11 goals in the Premier League to date.
That impenetrable nature was again evident last night as the 22-year-old produced arguably his “best game” yet with regards to his strength in the air, according to his manager, having won two of his three aerial duels.
That “dominant” showing – as lauded by Howe – saw the former Lille ace also showcase his talents on the ball as the 6 foot 4 colossus completed six of his seven long balls, while also enjoying a remarkable 96% pass accuracy rate from his 56 touches – losing possession only twice.
Such a performance also saw him named as the Man of the Match by journalist Craig Hope, while the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder was also effusive in his praise, awarding the player a 9/10 match rating and writing:
‘So composed. Read the game like an old pro, it’s hard to believe he’s still just 22.’
Having seemingly shown no ill-effect of his recent Netherlands snub, it looks as if Botman has simply picked up where he left off prior to the recent halt to proceedings.