Nick Pope is Newcastle’s saviour in shootout win over Crystal Palace

A year and a day since his installation as Newcastle’s manager, Eddie Howe endured a nailbiting cup tie culminating in a penalty shootout. Thanks to Nick Pope’s excellence it ended well.

The England goalkeeper’s saves from Luka Milivojevic, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Malcolm Ebiowei atoned for misses from Sven Botman and Bruno Guimarães to send the home side into the fourth round after a 90 minutes in which Marc Guéhi and the rest of Patrick Vieira’s back five relished frustrating their hosts.

“We got through a very difficult, tight game,” said Howe. “That’s the important thing. I don’t think it was a great performance but Nick Pope is a very commanding figure. He’s a great size and his saves were top-drawer.”

Howe had earlier been both amused and inspired to learn that Newcastle last won a trophy – the 1969 Fairs Cup – before humankind walked on the moon. Neil Armstrong’s pioneering steps were made in July that year, a month after Newcastle overcame Hungary’s Ujpest Dozsa 6-2 on aggregate.

The chances of something shiny and new finally being displayed alongside it in the St James’ Park trophy cabinet were enhanced on Wednesday when Newcastle’s Saudi Arabian-led owners revealed they have invested a further £70m in the club, to be divided between infrastructure improvements and player recruitment.

Howe evidently felt sufficient confidence in his squad to make eight changes to the side who won 4-1 at Southampton on Sunday. Callum Wilson, Newcastle’s first-choice centre-forward, did not even feature on the bench on the eve of an expected call-up to England’s World Cup squad.

With Chelsea due on Tyneside for a Premier League match on Saturday, Wilson’s in-form fellow forward, Miguel Almirón, began on the bench and attracted loud cheers as he took a light jog down the touchline. Howe’s largely second-string XI were starting slowly and looking a little uncertain defensively, with Pope required to make an excellent save to keep a low, left footed shot from Mateta out.

Although Vieira had also heavily reshuffled his team, with Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze not even featuring on the bench, Palace shaded a low-key first half during which a record League Cup attendance at St James’ Park of 51,660 could have done with a bit more entertainment.

James Tomkins and Chris Wood combined to very nearly offer them some at the outset of the second half but, although Wilson’s deputy intercepted the Palace defender’s ill-advised back-pass, Sam Johnstone reacted smartly to save Wood’s ensuing shot. Almost immediately, Palace responded. A rapidly counterattacking Jordan Ayew left a trail of home markers in his wake only for the striker’s eventual shot to fly just over the bar.

Allan Saint-Maximin frequently frustrated Vieira when he played for him at Nice and the Newcastle winger, recently recovered from injury, threatened to further annoy his old manager as his fancy footwork conjured a fine chance ultimately headed into the ground by Dan Burn.

Howe had seen enough and ordered his Brazil midfielder and local cult hero Guimarães to prepare to come on alongside Kieran Trippier and Botman in a triple substitution.

Once Guimarães had seized control of midfield, Almirón was also sent on. His arrival coincided with Palace starting to indulge in a little time-wasting, which ultimately succeeded in forcing penalties.

The scene was set for Pope’s heroics, and Jordan Pickford’s England international deputy rose to the challenge, in the process offering Gareth Southgate a timely reminder that he is a shootout specialist.

“It was a tough one,” said Vieira. “But we just have to battle on.”