Magpies Win At Ewood Park

Michael Owen

Blackburn Rov 0
Newcastle Utd 3

Shearer 62
Owen 66
N'Zogbia 85 
Taylor s/o 72

Ian Willis reports from Ewood Park

NEWCASTLE UNITED picked up their first Premiership win of the season after a second half super show at Blackburn on Sunday.

After a frustrating first half in which The Magpies struggled to create any clear cut chances, the game sprung into life after the break.

Alan Shearer and Michael Owen both scored within four minutes of each other, then after Steven Taylor was sent off for picking up two yellow cards, Charles N'Zogbia added the third in the closing stages to complete a memorable victory.

Former United striker Craig Bellamy made his home debut against his former club, but had no joy against a well-organised Newcastle rearguard.

GRAEME Souness had to ring the changes as he returned to Ewood Park on Sunday to face his former club Blackburn Rovers with several key players missing through injury and suspension.

Albert Luque's injury meant Charles N'Zogbia was handed a role on the left, while Lee Clark made his first start since returning to the club in the summer as Scott Parker was banned, and Lee Bowyer also returned to the starting XI.

Titus Bramble dropped to the bench to allow Steven Taylor back into the heart of defence after playing at right back last week. And that meant Stephen Carr slotted back in at his usual right back position after playing in midfield against Fulham last Saturday.

Alan O'Brien, the highly rated Irish winger, was on the bench for the first time after an impressive start to the season with the reserve team.

Craig Bellamy, as expected, was named in Mark Hughes' side after recovering from a thigh injury sustained while on international duty with Wales. This was his home debut following his move from St. James' Park in the summer.

Blackburn got the game underway attacking the Darwen End which was housing the travelling fans, and those fans booed Bellamy when he had his first touch inside the first minute.

Lucas Neill was booked by Mike Riley inside the first two minutes after leaving his foot in when challenging Taylor on the inside right channel.

Owen dragged a shot across the face of goal on seven minutes after Bowyer knocked the ball into his path after a Magpies move down the right flank.

Bentley's first time shot from 25 yards on 13 minutes was easy for Given, then in Newcastle's next attack Bowyer tried to loft a ball into the danger area but Freidel claimed the catch.

Given had to be alert to get to the ball ahead of Bellamy and clear downfield after Taylor knocked the ball back to his goalkeeper, mmthen Taylor's foul on Reid gave Rovers a free kick in a dangerous position 25 yards out to the right of centre. Morten Gamst Pedersen stepped up to take the set piece, and his curling effort wasn't too far away from giving the home side the lead as it dipped just over the top.   

Clark was booked on 28 minutes after a high challenge flattened Savage, then three minutes later he was joined in the book by Boumsong as he handled the ball after slipping. The slip from the centre back almost proved costly when Savage swung in the free kick from 22 yards, but Given dived full length to palm the ball away.

Given was then booked for taking his time over a free kick, though he appeared to be waiting for Boumsong to come back onto the pitch after going to the dugout to change his boots. 

The Newcastle goalkeeper was in the right place at the right time to claim a Pedersen looping header after Reid crossed from the right, then Bentley dragged a first time shot wide from 25 yards as the home side tried to break the deadlock before the half time interval.

Taylor sliced the ball out of play for a corner on 38 minutes after Faye was robbed by Savage who in turn sent Bellamy away down the right, but when Pedersen arrowed the flag kick to the near post Bentley couldn't direct his header on target and play resumed with a Magpies goal kick.

Given did well to get hold of a Bellamy cross two minutes before the break with both Bentley and Pedersen lurking in the middle, then Friedel grabbed the ball ahead of Owen after a Newcastle free kick in  the last attack of the first period.

With just 20 seconds on the clock in the second half Reid saw a strike from the edge of the box diverted over the bar for a corner, but referee Mr Riley spotted an infingement inside the box and gave Newcastle a free kick.

Taylor was booked on 48 minutes for a foul on Bellamy as the former United man tried to take advantage of a slip from Boumsong. Savage again took the free kick, but Given made an easy catch on his line.

Owen saw a cross from the right deflected for a corner off Gresko on 52 minutes, but Savage nodded N'Zogbia's inswinger away to safety.

Carr pulled up on 53 minutes after tracking back pedersen, and while he was able to resume after treatment he still looked in some discomfort when he hobbled back on.

Babayaro did brilliantly to sweep the ball over his own bar on 55 minutes when Reid tried to latch onto Bellamy's flick on, though the United players were incensed that play was allowed to go on after Bowyer was hurt in a challenge in the build up to the incident. When the corner was half cleared to the edge of the box, Bentley's shot flashed just wide with Bellamy unable to get a decisive touch at the back post.

Owen won another flag kick on 59 minutes, this time off Nelsen, but Savage again cleared as far as Faye and when he tried to play the ball back in his pass was overhit and Friedel collected.

A foul on Babayaro on Bellamy on the wide right gave Blackburn a free kick, but the set piece came to nothing and United cleared their lines without any trouble.

Neill fouled Owen on 62 minutes just a yard from the edge of the box right inside the dee. Clark rolled the ball into the path of Shearer, and the skipper fired the ball into Friedel's bottom left hand corner to send the travelling fans wild.

Four minutes later the United fans were celebrating again when Owen got on the end of a superb cross from N'Zogbia to glance the ball into the net for his first goal for the club.

Friedel had to race to the edge of the box to boot the ball away under pressure from Owen on 68 minutes as Newcastle pressed for a third goal, then at the other end Shefki Kuqi, on for Bentley, fired wide of the target from close range.

On 72 minutes Taylor picked up his second booking for tugging at the shirt of Bellamy, becoming the third Newcastle player to be sent off so far this season.

Souness reacted to that by replacing Shearer with Titus Bramble and leaving Owen in a lone role up front. The former Blackburn man was given a standing ovation as he trooped off the pitch from all four sides of the stadium on what -  barring any draws in the cup competitions - will be his last appearance at Ewood Park. 

Babayaro was shown a yellow card on 79 minutes after a foul on Tugay, and when Pedersen whipped the free kick in Bramble did well to head the ball out of play for a corner. When the kick came in, the ball drifted to Tugay at the back of the box but his effort flashed just wide.

Two corners in quick succession around the 83 minute mark both came to nothing for the hosts, then bellamy was appealing for a penalty after a challenge with Boumsong but referee Riley wasn't interested.

On 85 minutes N'Zogbia scored his second goal in the space of a week, beating the offisde trap to get on the end of Babayaro's long ball before neatly sidestepping Friedel and rolling the ball into the empty net to complete a comfortable win.

Kuqi won a corner off Boumsong in the last minute, and when the ball came in jansen headed twoards the far post but N'Zogbia was on the post to nod the ball off the line.

Bramble then prodded the ball away from Kuqi when Jansen crossed in stoppage time to preserve United's clean sheet.

United: Shay Given, Stephen Carr, Jean Alain Boumsong, Steven Taylor, Celestine Babayaro, Charles N'Zogbia, Lee Clark, Amady Faye, Lee Bowyer, Alan Shearer (Titus Bramble 74), Michael Owen Subs (not used): Steve Harper, Robbie Elliott, Alan O'Brien, Martin Brittain

Blackburn: Brad Friedel, Lucas Neill, Zurab Khizanishvili, Ryan Nelsen, Robbie Savage, Craig Bellamy, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Steven Reid, Aaron Mokeona (Tugay 67), Vratislav Gresko (Matt Jansen 76), David Bentley (Shefki Kuqi 67)  Subs (not used): Peter Enckelman, Brett Emerton

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