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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 20:54 GMT 21:54 UK
Newcastle clinch Euro spot
Keith Gillespie battles for possession with Newcastle's Gary Speed
Rovers' goal scorer Keith Gillespie battles for the ball
Blackburn 2-2 Newcastle
  E-mail your reaction to Football Talk
  Photo Gallery: Tuesday's Premiership action

Alan Shearer secured Newcastle a point against his former club and clinched Champions League qualification for the Magpies.

The Premiership's all-time leading scorer took his tally to 202 goals with a double on a night players did their best to upset their former clubs.

Both Blackburn's goals came from ex-Newcastle players, with Andrew Cole and Keith Gillespie twice giving the hosts the lead.

Newcastle are now seven points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea and cannot be caught by the Londoners.

Blackburn defender Craig Short (left) tussles with Newcastle's Lomana Lua Lua
Craig Short (left) tussles with Lomana Lua Lua

For Blackburn it was a night of frustration in their fight to avoid relegation.

Victory would have made it all but mathematically impossible for Ipswich to catch them.

But the draw means they are now seven points clear of the Suffolk side, and on this form they should comfortably stay up.

Newcastle looked very much the European contenders for the first 25 minutes as they carved out a handful of good chances.

Lomana Lua Lua and Shearer both went close for the visitors before Gary Speed saw his trademark header chested off the line.

Lua Lua should have done better when he rose unmarked in the six-yard box as Newcastle continued to dominate, but Blackburn then grabbed a shock lead.

Superb pass

Gillespie's header found Cole and the ex-Magpies striker spotted the Northern Ireland winger flying into the box.


You've seen our fans today - they deserve to be in Europe and so do the players and the manager
Alan Shearer
Newcastle captain
Cole slipped a superb reverse pass into Gillespie's path and the former Newcastle player drilled the ball low past the helpless Given.

Just over 10 minutes later Damien Duff embarked on a typically sinuous run before drawing a flying save from Republic of Ireland team-mate Shay Given.

And the winger turned then turned provider, crossing for the unmarked Matt Jansen to power over a header from a great position.

Heavy challenge

Newcastle were the first to threaten in the second half, with Laurent Robert hitting the side netting from an acute angle and Lua Lua following suit five minutes later.

Lucas Neill was carried off after falling awkwardly under a heavy challenge from Robert on the hour, and a minute later Newcastle were level.


Andy has looked threatening in every game with us - he should definitely go to the World Cup
Graeme Souness
Blackburn manager
Nolberto Solano's acute-angled drive was parried but Shearer was on hand to turn the ball home.

No sooner had Newcastle started to think about the Champions League than they were behind again.

European dreams

Yet again it was a player scoring against his former club, with Cole getting on the end of a cross and acrobatically forcing the ball home off his studs.

But Shearer was in no mood to be out-shone by the Magpies old boys and he had the visitors level within five minutes, flicking the ball past Friedel from Robert's cute pass.

Newcastle brought on PFA Young Player of the Year Craig Bellamy in search of all three points, but neither side could force another goal.

Newcastle will now head into the close season dreaming of European glory, while Blackburn edge ever closer to Premiership safety.


Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Berg, Short, Unsal, Gillespie, Tugay, Dunn, Duff, Cole, Jansen. Subs: Flitcroft, Hughes, Johansson, Yordi, Kelly.

Newcastle: Given, Hughes, Distin, Dabizas, Elliott, Robert, Dyer, Solano, Speed, LuaLua, Shearer. Subs: O'Brien, Jenas, Bellamy, Bernard, Harper.

Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield)

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Ron Jones
"One hard-earned point confirms Newcastle's Champions League place"
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson
"It was very important to get this extra point"
Blackburn's Craig Short
"It's a decent result for us"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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