Newcastle took all three points at Ewood Park last night thanks to the profligacy of the hosts in front of goal.
In fact I’m still trying to work out just how we took the three points after being dominated from pretty much start to finish by a Blackburn side who did pretty much everything aside from hitting the back of the net.
If it had been a boxing contest it would have been a very strange one. Technically it should have been over way before the 12th round, but Newcastle took a sustained beating only to land the knockout blow with seconds remaining to move up to 5th in the table leaving Blackburn floundering at the wrong end of the table.
Newcastle could have taken the lead on six minutes but Shola Ameobi delayed his effort just long enough for Scott Dann to get in the way to block. Just six minutes later though Newcastle did take the lead, and Dann was involved again. Sloppy play from Blackburn gifted Leon Best possession. He then squared the ball for Ryan Taylor 30-yards from goal who unleashed a shot only for the ball to deflect off Scott Dann and into the opposite corner of Paul Robinson’s net. 1-0.
Blackburn had chances to equalise and they could have done so straight away through Gael Givet who connected with Morten Gamst-Pedersen’s corner only to see his goalbound effort blocked on the line by Danny Simpson and his rebounded effort scuffed wide of Tim Krul’s goal.
Controversy followed soon after that as a host of Newcastle and Blackburn players ended up scuffling with each other, with only Ryan Taylor receiving a booking for his troubles. TV replays showed why the Scouse lad got into trouble as he dragged Junior Hoilett off the ground after the the Blackburn forward took a blatant dive to con the referee into giving a free kick. The FA should really look into things like that!
Fortunately nothing came of it, but Phil Dowd and his monobrow were becoming equally shifty and you got the sense they were waiting to give Blackburn a gift. That gift duly arrived when Anthony Modeste charged into Danny Simpson in the penalty box. Verdict: Penalty to Blackburn. Fortunately Tim Krul pulled off a wonderful save from David Dunn and thwarted the attempt from the rebound to boot!
The second half saw a tactical change from Alan Pardew. We were getting run ragged in the first half and couldn’t get out of our own half. The disappointing Hatem Ben Arfa was withdrawn for James Perch as Newcastle shifted back to a more conventional 4-4-2 and immediately looked more assured in the process.
Blackburn still created chances but they were unable to capitalise on any of them. Newcastle defended stoutly with Fabricio Coloccini showing just why he is such an important part of our defence. Even Shola Ameobi and Leon Best were doing their bit to help out in defence although the latter came close to putting through his own net.
As time started to run out Blackburn once again turned the screw and pushed for an equaliser exposing themselves at the back and leaving them vulnerable to the counter-attack. The introduction of Gabriel Obertan was designed to capitalise on Blackburn’s high defensive line, and I think it’s fair to say it worked a treat.
Gabriel Obertan received the ball in his own half and laid it square to Peter Lovenkrands. The Dane bided his time and waited until the moment was right to release the Frenchman who had continued his run beyond the last man. An inch perfect pass followed allowing Obertan a free run on goal where he despatched a cool finish with power and accuracy past Paul Robinson and into the back of the Blackburn net.
The win takes us to 5th in the table ahead of the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, and with players like Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba to return, could we really looking at a late season charge for European qualification?
Howay the lads!
Blackburn: Paul Robinson, Jason Lowe, Gael Givet, Scott Dann, Martin Olsson, Junior Hoilett, Radosav Petrovic, Steven N’Zonzi, David Dunn, Morten Gamst-Pedersen, Anthony Modeste
Subs: Mark Bunn, Mauro Formica, Ruben Rochina, Grant Hanley, Adam Henley, Jordan Slew, Simon Vuckevic
Newcastle: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Hatem Ben Arfa, Ryan Taylor, Danny Guthrie, Jonas Gutierrez; Leon Best, Shola Ameobi
Subs: Rob Elliot, James Perch, Shane Ferguson, Dan Gosling, Mehdi Abeid, Gabriel Obertan, Peter Lovenkrands