Lucky breaks help Newcastle United

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NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew admitted his side rode their luck at Ewood Park last night – but said they were due a slice of good fortune.

The Magpies went fifth in the Premier League, but had keeper Tim Krul to thank for a first-half penalty save from Anthony Modeste, as well as a dogged and determined defensive performance.

The visitors, without the suspended Yohan Cabaye, were gifted the lead by a Scott Dann own goal, and Gabriel Obertan came off the bench to seal the victory with a goal deep in injury-time.

“I’m delighted – we came through a few tests, ” Pardew said. “We had some key players missing. Losing Cabaye in the morning was another hammer blow, and we wondered when our luck would turn.

“But it turned tonight. We had a few breaks in the game.

“The first goal was fortunate. We had a penalty save. Blackburn had a couple of chances that perhaps could have gone in. We had a couple of breaks.

“There must have been 80 balls that went in our box, so to get a clean sheet was absolutely brilliant. I didn’t think it was a penalty. On our side, it just goes to show the resilience of our squad.”

Pardew again used a 4-2-3-1 formation, but the system was changed at the break after his team’s first-half battering.

James Perch replaced Hatem Ben Arfa, who had been a peripheral figure.

And Pardew felt Perch – who had played well in defence at Brighton – helped shore up his midfield.

Newcastle dominated the early possession and took the lead in the 12th minute, albeit with a huge slice of luck.

A mix-up between Radosav Petrovic and Dann let in the visitors but Ryan Taylor’s shot was speculative at best before it took a wicked deflection off the defender, leaving Paul Robinson helpless.

Rovers reacted well and were almost level immediately but Gael Givet’s volley from Morten Gamst Pedersen’s corner was cleared off the line by Simpson and the defender poked the rebound wide.

Modeste, a loan signing from Bordeaux, then beat the offside trap but Coloccini did well to get back and block his cross, with Petrovic volleying just wide after Newcastle struggled to clear their lines.

Rovers were certainly looking the brighter side and Krul was nowhere near a curling Junior Hoilett shot that just missed the far post while Coloccini produced another timely block to deny Modeste.

The Argentinian was then penalised for bringing down Hoilett on the edge of the box – a decision that infuriated Newcastle, who felt the winger had dived.

Taylor was booked for confronting Hoilett in the heated aftermath but Coloccini escaped further punishment despite arguably being the last man. Pedersen could not take advantage of the situation, though, seeing his free-kick deflected wide.

Newcastle’s luck continued to hold in the 38th minute as Best headed a Pedersen corner against his own crossbar while a mix-up between Krul and Mike Williamson presented Modeste with an open goal from 35 yards but he fired way over.

Rovers at last saw something go their way two minutes before the break when referee Phil Dowd awarded a penalty after Simpson barged into Modeste. But Dunn’s spot-kick was weak and easily saved by Krul, who also stopped Givet’s tame follow-up.

Blackburn failed to find the same fluency after half-time. Steve Kean attempted to inject a bit more creativity by replacing Petrovic with Formica, and they created a glorious chance with 67 minutes gone.

Pedersen released Modeste with a lovely ball but the striker showed a lack of composure in rushing his shot and screwed it well wide with only Krul to beat.

It was at least a glimmer for the Blackburn fans to cheer and moments later Dann headed Pedersen’s free-kick straight at Krul from close range. Formica then shot into the side netting, while Perch produced a great block to keep out a Givet shot.

But their hopes were ended in injury time when substitute Obertan ended a quick break with the sort of clinical finish Rovers had been so sorely lacking.

Blackburn: Robinson, Lowe, Dann, Givet, Olsson, Hoilett, Dunn (Rochina 78), Nzonzi, Pedersen, Petrovic (Formica 66), Modeste. Subs Not Used: Bunn, Slew, Vukcevic, Hanley, Henley. Booked: Lowe.

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Ben Arfa (Perch 46), Guthrie, Ryan Taylor (Obertan 89), Gutierrez, Best (Lovenkrands 77), Shola Ameobi. Subs Not Used: Elliot, Abeid, Gosling, Ferguson. Booked: Ryan Taylor, Williamson. Goals: Dann 12 og, Obertan 90.

Att: 20, 817 Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).