Newcastle United 1 Manchester City 0

Owen looks the perfect 10 as he chips in with winner
Click to follow
The Independent Football

In his time as a Liverpool player, Owen scored nine goals in eight appearances at the Tyneside ground. Having drawn a blank on his debut for Newcastle a fortnight ago, he made it 10 out of 10 at St James' with the goal that earned his new team their first home win in the Premiership since March.

Following his goalscoring header at Blackburn last Sunday, it was a second instalment on the £17m invested in the erstwhile Bernabeu bench man. By his own admission, Owen could have notched a hat-trick against a Manchester City side now in need of some Psycho-therapy after a third defeat in seven days. Still, Owen was happy enough with the 18th-minute finish which compounded the woes of City manager Stuart Pearce and lifted Newcastle to 11th in the Premiership table.

"I've scored goals all my life and I knew I was going to score them here," Owen said afterwards. "Thankfully, I've managed to do it quickly. I did have a few chances today. I would have felt guilty if we hadn't held out to win."

As for Pearce - who saw his side hit the woodwork five times and lose to an injury-time penalty against Bolton last Sunday and fail to hit the target in their penalty shoot-out at Doncaster on Wednesday - he could only shrug his shoulders at the misfortune of crossing paths with Newcastle's high-priced striking asset.

"Credit to Newcastle - they paid a lot of money to someone who can put the ball in the back of the net," Pearce said. "He was probably the difference between the two sides."

Pearce's City were without the man who averaged a goal every game at St James' in his two years as a Newcastle player. Andrew Cole - or Andy Cole as he was known when he bagged 47 goals in 45 home matches for Newcastle - was still suffering from a hamstring strain and failed to make the trip to Tyneside.

Cole's strike partner, Robbie Fowler, was also on the injured list, but City had an early chance to strike first, with Antoine Sibierski swooping to execute a diving header which Shay Given managed to save with his left boot.

It was Alan Shearer who paved the way for the goal, beating Sylvain Distin to a header before Lee Bowyer threaded a pass through to Owen, who averted the converging David James and Richard Dunne with a first-time poke of the left foot that sent the ball on its way into the back of the Leazes End net.

It was a clever finish by Newcastle's one-time nemesis and a smart piece of assistance by Bowyer, whose troubles off the field continued on Friday with a conviction for speeding at 112 miles per hour.

Not that Newcastle were quick to finish off their opponents. They had the chances to do so before the interval but Shearer powered a header high of the target and Owen steered a side-footed shot straight at James when his striking partner put him clear - Owen also hooked a shot inches over the bar.

Their attacking momentum halted, Newcastle threatened only fleetingly after the break, most notably in injury time, when Owen fed Shola Ameobi for a sitter that the substitute contrived to miss.

For much of the second half, the Magpies were in something of a flutter at the back. On three occasions, Dunne was allowed free headers from corners. And three times, to the relief of the Toon Army, the big defender failed to capitalise on his good fortune.

It was at St James' Park that City memorably won the championship on the final day of the 1967-68 season, snatching the title from Manchester United with a 4-3 victory.

They won the title with the familiar chimes of Helen Turner ringing in their ears. On Friday, the woman whose clanging bell accompanied City matches for more than half a century passed away, aged 85 - another sad loss to a once-great game.

Comments