Monday 23 December 2013
Jonas Gutierrez had a hand in all four goals as Newcastle came from behind to overwhelm Norwich City at Whitley Park.
"Gutierrez is somebody who has played at a World Cup but on a bobbly pitch in December playing for the U21s, he was a superb example to the younger players"
The Argentinian was one of five men with first-team experience to line up against the Canaries, with Steven Taylor, Paul Dummett, Gael Bigirimana, Adam Campbell and Curtis Good in the side.
Willie Donachie and Peter Beardsley's side gave a fine performance, despite falling behind to Carlton Morris' strike shortly after hitting a post through Campbell.
Five minutes later, the scores were level when Ewan McNeil put the ball into his own net from Campbell's cross after good work from Gutierrez and Rolando Aarons. The hosts went ahead when the Buenos Aires-born player was fouled for a free-kick which Bigirimana curled past Ben Killip.
In the second half Gutierrez finished well after a one-two with Campbell to make it 3-1, and substitute Jonathyn Quinn added a fourth late on, prodding in from Bigirimana's corner which arrived after a shot by Gutierrez had been repelled.
"[Gutierrez] was very good," Donachie told nufc.co.uk. "He showed a great attitude; this is somebody who has played at a World Cup but on a bobbly pitch in December playing for the under-21s, he was a superb example to the younger players.
"You could understand if he was disheartened about not playing but he was fantastic and Steven Taylor was the same. It was a good win and improves our chances of finishing in the top half of the table, which is important because our league position will determine which group we're in for the second half of the season.
"Adam Campbell and Gael Bigirimana worked hard for us too, and Rolando Aarons was one of several younger players who did well."
The win lifts Newcastle a place above the Canaries in 11th, who also have 13 points, 12 behind leaders Fulham.
Arsenal and Manchester United signed off the calendar year with a share of the spoils at Meadow Park.
The Gunners had to battle back after conceding early on when Larnell Cole sent Matt Macey the wrong way from the penalty spot after he had been hauled down by Isaac Hayden. But the Gunners, for whom Benik Afobe and Ryo Miyaichi made returns from injuries, levelled 13 minutes after half-time when Thomas Eisfeld met Tafari Moore's cut-back with a powerful low finish past Joel Castro Pereira.
There were chances for either side before the close, James Wilson sending a shot fizzing narrowly wide from 30 yards for the champions and, in added time, Jon Toral’s shot was repelled by the legs of Castro Pereira before Eisfeld fired the rebound against a post.
The draw takes Arsenal up to seventh, 10 points off the summit with three matches in hand, with United, who have also played eight matches, three points further back in 14th.
Man City booked their place in the quarter-finals of the inaugural Under-21 Premier League Cup in freezing conditions at the Regional Athletics Stadium.
In their last match of the year, goals from Seko Fofana and Devante Cole ensured that Patrick Vieira’s side overcame a resilient Albion to extend their winning run to four matches.
Vieira made three attacking changes from the team who emerged victorious from the clash with the Baggies last weekend in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, with Jordi Hiwula replacing John Guidetti, who was on the bench for the first team on Saturday, while Fofana and Cole came in for Albert Rusnak and Sinan Bytyqi.
After passing up chances to take the lead, with Marcos Lopes skimming the bar and Cole crashing a shot against the same woodwork in the first half, the hosts went ahead on 56 minutes, as Fofana drilled a low shot past Jack Rose. Cole doubled City's advantage with 20 minutes left when he finished off a cross from Bytyqi, who dribbled his way through a crowded area before picking out his team-mate.
The visitors twice came close to scoring with Ian Lawlor denying Andre Wright's header and Liam O’Neill’s free-kick, but City held on and can enjoy Christmas knowing they are among the last eight teams standing.
Friday 20 December
Arsenal 1 (Eisfeld) Manchester United (Cole)
Newcastle United 4 (McNeil og, Bigirimana, Gutierrez, Quinn) 1 Norwich City (Morris)
Sunday 22 December
Manchester City (Fofana, Cole) 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
Find out the full Barclays Under-21 fixture list here and view the table here.
To discover the Under-21 Premier League Cup draw, click here.