Blackburn Rovers 3 Newcastle Utd 1: Bentley turns screw on Newcastle

England hopeful's second-half double lifts Blackburn out of mini-slump and piles more misery on to Allardyce
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Two handsome second-half goals from the destructive right foot of David Bentley ensured that it was Blackburn who ended their barren run in this contest between recent under-achievers. A viciously swerving free-kick and a crisp low shot from the angle of the penalty area propelled Rovers to victory after Newcastle had taken the lead in a match that only came to life after the interval.

There was a massively improved second-half display from Blackburn, although it took Tugay's injury-time goal to make sure of an overdue win. "In the first half we were a bit flat as a consequence of our efforts in midweek," said Mark Hughes, the Rovers manager, still stinging from that 4-0 home defeat by Aston Villa on Wednesday.

"When Newcastle scored from a set-piece it livened us up. David Bentley's first goal was an outstanding strike and it was important that we got back on level terms. After that, I thought both teams tried to win the game."

That it was Blackburn who did so owed something to the good fortune of an equally good Bentley shot going into the Newcastle net off an upright. "You have to have luck in football," said Hughes. "That's what we feel we haven't had recently."

The Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce, the target of the finger-pointing and chants of "you don't know what you're doing" from a section of the club's crowd recently, would agree with that observation about the role of luck.

He felt that his side had been wrongly pulled up for offside when they threatened a second goal immediately before the equaliser, and the free-kick that gave Bentley his opportunity was questionable. "But you can't just blame that, because it was an unbelievable strike," he said.

Allardyce was full of praise for the 6,000 or so Newcastle fans who made the trip and, apart from a few dissenting voices raised at Joey Barton, gave them unstinting support throughout. "We've got to play like this at home," Allardyce said. "It was a terrific performance, a terrific effort and we had lots of opportunities to win the game. But we found ourselves caught on the break, which is unusual away from home."

Newcastle probably did shade a lacklustre first half, although the best chance fell to Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz when he was set up by Benni McCarthy's deft flick but shot wide.

Two sides without a win in four games struggled to find any rhythm and Newcastle were not helped by an injury to Abdoulaye Faye that forced a defensive reshuffle.

No sooner had Newcastle switched around at half-time to play towards their massed ranks than they gave them something to celebrate. A free-kick whipped in from the left by James Milner should have been dealt with easily enough, but Obafemi Martins got away from his marker to glance home a header and give himself the perfect opportunity for a few somersaults. In a sense, everyone in the ground was entitled to celebrate because the goal woke the game up.

Six minutes later, Blackburn were level when Charles N'Zogbia fouled Santa Cruz25 yards out. Bentley sized it up with his trusted right foot and curled it in magnificently.

A desperate scramble in the Blackburn six-yard box almost saw them go behind again immediately, before Brad Friedel eventually claimed the ball. Bentley fired wide for Rovers and Martins headed over when Christopher Samba's hesitation gave him an opening.

Hughes brought on all three substitutes in an attempt to win the game and got his reward when Jason Roberts won a ball in the air, Santa Cruz ran at the Newcastle rearguard and the ball broke kindly for Bentley. Again that right foot was deadly.

Bentley almost created a third for Brett Emerton, who overlapped and put his shot against the same post, this time for it to bounce clear. Morten Gamst Pedersen, another substitute, put a diving header just wide before those two combined for Tugay to take advantage of a hopelessly over-committed defence to make sure of the three points two minutes into time added on.

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