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?
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

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future