Owen and Shearer hit it off to put smile back on Souness' face

Blackburn Rovers 0 Newcastle United 3

It was the proudest moment of Shepherd's stewardship when he persuaded Michael Owen to partner Alan Shearer in the Newcastle attack and it was, without question, the most important moment of Souness's reign when that partnership delivered for the first time in the 62nd minute. Prior to Lucas Neill's foul on Owen, Newcastle had looked every inch the dishevelled unit that would cost Souness his job. Then Shearer produced a captain's touch, converting a free-kick from 20 yards into his first goal for 25 hours and the course of a game, and quite possibly a season, changed beyond recognition.

Consumed by nerves and uncertainty, Newcastle then coasted to a first-ever Premiership victory at Blackburn when Owen claimed his first goal in black and white four minutes later.

What a difference three points make. On the final whistle Souness's name resonated from the Darwen End and he obliged not only with a salute to the travelling Geordies but an out-stretched hand to Craig Bellamy that his bitter adversary accepted.

"Now I can be more pleasant around my family," Souness said. "I would never use the word secure because that is not something that goes with football management and the pressure starts again tomorrow when we start training for the game at Manchester City. I am at a big football club, we have spent a lot of money and we have to be in the top half but, yes, hopefully this could be the springboard."

Few would have envisaged such optimism at half-time as Newcastle struggled to live up to even the most humble of expectations.

As so often, however, one goal can change everything, even the memories of what was threatening to be a turgid contest.

"I didn't think we were going to lose until the free-kick went in," said Mark Hughes, Blackburn's manager. "I thought it was unwarranted but it changed the game. Until then I thought they had come with an attitude that they would be happy with a point so a 3-0 defeat is hard to take."

It reveals much about Owen and Shearer's pedigree that they both got on the scoresheet yesterday despite the lack of ideas behind them. Bellamy had been the most prominent of the strikers with a sub-plot, in his case to hasten the departure of the manager who signalled the end of his own career at St James' Park, as functional Blackburn held the edge before the former England double-act intervened, Owen converting a cross from Charles N'Zogbia for his first Premiership goal since equalising against Newcastle for Liverpool at Anfield in May 2004.

"Obviously Alan is not as good as he was a few years ago," Owen said, "but he is still good enough to be a big, big force in the Premier League. I have also changed my game from when I was 18, 20 when I played for England with him but I'm sure we are going to score quite a few together."

Blackburn gave Shearer a generous reception when he departed in the 74th minute - almost certainly his last appearance at the stadium where he won the title in 1995 - as a consequence of Steven Taylor's dismissal for a second yellow card. There must be something stirring in Newcastle when even a sending-off cannot destabilise them.

With five minutes remaining Celestine Babayaro released N'Zogbia down the left. Onside and unmarked he waltzed towards Brad Friedel's goal, rolled his foot over the ball and away from the keeper and converted into an empty net. A sublime finish to what, in relation to his job prospects, had developed into a sublime afternoon for Souness.

Goals: Shearer (62) 0-1; Owen (66) 0-2; N'Zogbia (85) 0-3.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-1-1): Friedel; Neill, Khizanishvili, Nelsen, Gresko (Jansen, 76); Reid, Savage, Mokoena (Tugay, 67), Pedersen; Bentley (Kuqi, 67); Bellamy. Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Emerton.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Carr, Boumsong, Taylor, Babayaro; Bowyer, Clark, Faye, N'Zogbia; Shearer (Bramble, 74), Owen. Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Elliott, O'Brien, Brittain.

Referee: M Riley (W Yorkshire).

Booked: Blackburn Neill; Newcastle Clark, Boumsong, Given, Taylor, Babayaro.

Sent off: Newcastle Taylor.

Man of the match: N'Zogbia.

Attendance: 20,725.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen