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Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Saturday, 27 September 2008 16:55 UK

Newcastle 1-2 Blackburn

By Aimee Lewis

Christopher Samba celebrates
Samba celebrates scoring Blackburn's first goal

First-half goals from Christopher Samba and Roque Santa Cruz saw Blackburn inflict a fifth successive defeat on a beleaguered Newcastle.

Defender Samba headed in Carlos Villanueva's free-kick from close range to give Blackburn a deserved lead.

And Cruz doubled the score when he headed home Brett Emerton's cross.

Newcastle produced a spirited fightback after the break and scored through a Michael Owen penalty but Geremi missed a great chance to equalise.

Caretaker coach Chris Hughton was in charge at St James' Park with Joe Kinnear, installed as a shock interim manager on Friday, watching from the stands before he takes the reins on Monday.

Kinnear targets 18 points from six games

The former Wimbledon and Luton boss has admitted his six to eight games in charge will be his biggest challenge in football.

Certainly on this form, Newcastle - who are now on their longest losing run in the Premier League and have just four points from six league games - are heading for relegation.

But they showed enough spirit in the second half to suggest that an upturn in fortunes could be forthcoming.

The glum expressions on home fans' faces at half-time was proof enough that Newcastle were lacklustre in the first half.

Indeed, it was a surprise that Blackburn took until the 31st minute to grab the lead as the visitors had been dominant, with Matt Derbyshire and the lively Villanueva causing problems.

Derbyshire forced Shay Given to make an early save and moments later a Stephen Warnock shot could easily have been deflected into the net.


In the 18th minute, Sebastien Bassong rescued the Magpies when he cleared Derbyshire's effort off the line but a Blackburn goal seemed inevitable and, for the almost mute Newcastle fans, it came with worrying ease.

Samba's darting run outwitted the defence and the French defender headed home from six yards into the bottom-right corner.

The Magpies were sloppy in possession and were being overrun in midfield, and four minutes before the break Blackburn doubled their lead through Santa Cruz's second league goal of the season with the Paraguay striker picking almost the exact same spot as Samba.

We could have scored more - Ince

Newcastle's fans warmly applauded their team back onto the pitch for the second half and the home side repaid the support by halving the deficit within five minutes.

In the 47th minute, Newcastle had a penalty appeal for what appeared to be a Martin Olsson handball turned down but, two minutes later, Nelsen brought down Owen, who had been a peripheral figure in the first half, and the England striker struck his penalty down the centre of goal.

Newcastle were reinvigorated and they should have equalised when Damien Duff followed up his mesmerising run with a menacing cross but Geremi, with the goal at his mercy, let the ball bounce off his knee.

Blackburn, led by the veteran midfielder Tugay, deserve praise for quelling Newcastle who, despite the best efforts of substitute Shola Ameobi and Duff, were unable to get the equaliser they perhaps deserved.

Newcastle interim boss Joe Kinnear:
"We needed to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to get rid of all the issues that are going on - Is the club being sold? Are we bringing back Kevin Keegan? - until it actually happens.

"We need to focus on playing football, it's as simple as that. And they need to play football well. But what has not helped matters, I am told, is that six or seven of the best players are missing.

"On the good side, with the international break coming up we could have four or five of them back."

Blackburn manager Paul Ince:
"It was important in the last 48 hours that we shut that out (Newcastle's off-field problems) and concentrated on what Blackburn Rovers is all about rather than feeling sorry for Newcastle.

"Also, it was a case of who got the first goal. As soon as we got the first goal I felt at ease because I knew the crowd would get on their backs.

"It's not the Newcastle players' fault. They are trying, they are trying really, really hard and I feel sorry for them."

Newcastle: Given, Bassong, Taylor, Coloccini, Cacapa, Geremi (Ameobi 71), Butt, Duff, N'Zogbia (Edgar 82), Xisco, Owen.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Tozer, Doninger, Donaldson, Ranger.

Goals: Owen 51 pen.

Blackburn: Brown, Simpson, Nelsen, Samba, Warnock, Emerton, Olsson, Kerimoglu, Derbyshire (Ooijer 84), Roque Santa Cruz (Roberts 84), Villanueva (Fowler 62).
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Pedersen, Andrews, Treacy.

Booked: Emerton, Warnock, Nelsen, Roberts.

Goals: Samba 31, Roque Santa Cruz 41.

Att: 44,935

Ref: Steve Tanner (Somerset).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Newcastle's Michael Owen 7.86 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

see also
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
Newcastle 1-2 Blackburn
27 Sep 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
27 Sep 08 |  Football
Premier League as it happened
27 Sep 08 |  Premier League
Kinnear reign hindered by old ban
27 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Kinnear targets 18 points from six games
27 Sep 08 |  Match of the Day

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