ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN’S wondershow proved once again why he should be the first name on any Newcastle teamsheet.
Steve Bruce claimed his star player had a hamstring injury and was even a doubt for last night.
And the Toon boss was said to be furious after claims emerged the pair had fallen out over his attitude in training.
The first showed exactly why he is revered by the Toon Army.
Picking up the ball deep in his own half, he got clattered by Gareth Barry and tumbled to the ground.
But he immediately got up before racing forward 50 yards and playing a brilliant pass for Miguel Almiron to open the scoring after 33 minutes.
Almiron grabbed a second in first-half stoppage time — a move started by Saint-Maximin.
Two minutes after the break the Toon had seemingly sealed a place in the sixth round.
ANOTHER PEACH OF A PASS
This time Paraguayan ace Almiron on the right flank spotted Saint-Maximin free on the left and played a great cross-field ball.
And the Frenchman picked out yet another peach of a pass into the six-yard box for Valentino Lazaro to bundle in the third.
Bruce has made no secret he wants to win the club an FA Cup for the first time since 1955. And this victory puts the Geordies in the quarter-finals for the first time since 2006.
Incredibly, they have scored seven goals away from home in this season’s Cup — just five fewer than their entire tally so far on the road in the Premier League.
It is just a shame West Brom boss Slaven Bilic opted to put out his reserve team making NINE changes.
That is what the Cup has been reduced to — a team in the second tier with a realistic chance of progressing making the changes because the prize is not worth going for when compared to the millions on offer for promotion to the Premier League.
The FA contrived to devalue this competition even further by squeezing this round into midweek to cater for a mid-winter break, which in itself was a farce as cup replays were scheduled during it.
Newcastle made six changes himself with Saint-Maximin back in the team after Bruce claimed he had a hamstring injury that made him a doubt.
Barry got caught in possession early on by Nabil Bentaleb, who had the simple task of squaring to Almiron but his pass was poor and the danger passed.
But the Baggies had their own chance when Kyle Edwards caught Sean Longstaff in possession and his well-hit shot was saved by Karl Darlow.
Longstaff then sprayed a fantastic pass down the right to Javier Manquillo but his cross was headed wide by Joelinton.
The Toon striker has been a complete flop since his £40million summer move from Hoffenheim.
He has only scored ONE Premier League goal — although he has managed two goals in the FA Cup, against League One clubs Rochdale and Oxford.
When he has scored, the Brazilian has shown what he is capable of but he does tend to snatch at chances.
He did superbly well down the left to race past Dara O’Shea and then Darnell Furlong but saw his shot palmed around the right post for a corner.
Newcastle were looking the more likely to score but Longstaff snatched at a chance himself when well placed.
Saint-Maximin almost scored a goal-of-the-month contender when he ran on to a pass from Joelinton and thumped a 30-yarder against the post.
While West Brom’s Charlie Austin almost scored a fantastic goal himself after turning on the edge of the box and letting fly but Darlow made a great save.
But Newcastle swept into a 33rd-minute lead with a fine goal.
Saint-Maximin picked up possession deep in his own half before getting kicked in the ankle by Barry. But he got up and released a superb ball for Almiron.
And the Toon ace — one-on-one with keeper Jonathan Bond — slotted his shot home.
But it was Newcastle who added a second in first-half stoppage time.
Lazaro and Manquillo exchanged passes to get round the back of the Baggies down the right side — but Chris Brunt and Barry collided with each other when they had the chance to clear.
Joelinton played a brilliant back-heel to put the ball on a plate for Almiron to fire in his second.
And after the break Newcastle thought the game was pretty much wrapped up.
This time Almiron, spotting Saint-Maximin free, played a lovely sweeping pass and he laid it into the path of Lazaro to score.
West Brom almost pulled one back when Matt Phillips’ chip had goal written all over it but Danny Rose headed it off the line.
The Baggies then missed another great chance when sub Filip Krovinovic drove a ball across goal into the path of Phillips.
Krovinovic then picked up the ball just outside the box and curled one just over the bar.
But Phillips pounced in the 74th minute. And the Baggies made the Toon sweat in the closing seconds as sub Kenneth Zohore flicked home from close range.