Florian Thauvin stars as Newcastle ease past Northampton
Florian Thauvin announced himself on Tyneside in style as he put League Two Northampton to the sword to book Newcastle's place in the third round of the Capital One Cup.
The B#13million winger opened the scoring on his first start for the club, and then provided the ammunition for Siem De Jong, Daryl Janmaat and Mike Williamson to secure a 4-1 victory at St James' Park with Marc Richards' 10th-minute penalty having briefly given the League Two side hope.
It was a first win of the season for new manager Steve McClaren, and while there are sterner tests to come, Thauvin's contribution and those of De Jong and Ayoze Perez in particular in front of a delighted crowd of 26,923 will have provided encouragement.
Newcastle have publicly reversed their recent domestic cup policy this season and McClaren insisted in the run-up to the game that he would field his "strongest team possible", although in the event, he made nine changes to the side which drew 0-0 at Manchester United on Saturday.
That included Thauvin's full debut and yet another return from injury for luckless midfielder De Jong, who was handed the captain's armband, and the pair were to make almost immediate impacts.
The game was less than three minutes old when the Frenchman stretched out a leg at the far post to turn home Massadio Haidara's cross, and just five more minutes had elapsed when De Jong rose to glance Thauvin's inswinging free-kick past goalkeeper Ryan Clarke.
However, the visitors were quite literally handed a lifeline when Rod McDonald's header from Adam Yates' free-kick struck Cheick Tiote's arm and referee David Coote pointed straight to the spot to hand Cobblers skipper Richards the chance to level, and he did not pass it up.
Richards headed just wide at the near-post seven minutes later with Town taking advantage of Newcastle's carelessness, although the Premier League outfit might have wrapped up victory by half-time with Clarke saving twice from Perez and blocking an injury-time effort from De Jong, who had earlier headed wide from close range.
Yoan Gouffran whipped a shot into the side-netting from Perez's 49th-minute lay-off as the Magpies attempted to kill the tie off, and they extended their lead with 56 minutes gone when Perez, De Jong and Thauvin combined before full-back Janmaat ran on to the Frenchman's beautiful reverse pass to beat the keeper.
The contest was effectively over seven minutes later when Williamson converted another Thauvin free-kick with an unopposed header, and McClaren withdrew the former Marseille winger to warm applause as Aleksandar Mitrovic joined the fray.
Chris Wilder's men, who had fought gamely throughout, continued to do so all the way to the whistle, but to no avail.