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Kinnear sees Newcastle misery deepen against Blackburn

SoccerNews in English Premier League 27 Sep 2008

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Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear was left in no doubts about the size of the task facing him as his new side slumped to a dismal 2-1 defeat against Blackburn on Saturday.

Kinnear was Newcastle’s surprise choice to replace Kevin Keegan on a temporary basis earlier this week and he was in the stands at St James’ Park as the increasingly shambolic club lost for the fifth successive match.

Goals from Christopher Samba and Roque Santa Cruz put Blackburn in control before half-time and Michael Owen’s penalty soon after the break couldn’t spark Newcastle into life.

If former Wimbledon and Nottingham Forest boss Kinnear was pinching himself to make sure his unlikely return to the big time wasn’t a dream before kick-off, he will be suffering a few nightmares before he takes over Monday.

The Nigerian consortium bidding to buy the club from Mike Ashley could be forgiven for thinking again as well. Kinnear has already admitted his reign could be over within a month if Keegan is hired by the prospective new owners, but it will be a bumpy ride until then.

Right from the first minutes it was clear that the chaos enveloping second bottom Newcastle had taken its toll on the players.

In front of a crowd of 44,935 – around 7,000 down on capacity – Blackburn took full advantage. Turkish midfielder Tugay created the first chance with nine minutes gone when Steven Taylor allowed his long ball to reach Matt Derbyshire, who cut inside from the left to force a good save from Shay Given.

Newcastle almost fell behind in the 16th minute when Stephen Warnock’s shot ballooned up off Cacapa and, with Given wrong-footed, just cleared the crossbar.

Only last-ditch defending saved them two minutes later when Santa Cruz ran in on goal but neither he or Derbyshire could hit the target.

Newcastle finally cracked 14 minutes before the break after N’Zogbia tripped Santa Cruz 30 yards out.

Chile forward Carlos Villanueva curled the free-kick into the box, where Congo defender Samba rose to power a perfectly placed header past Given.

There was no sign of a response from Newcastle, who looked powerless to prevent Blackburn carving out chances at will.

Villanueva, a loan signing from Chilean club Audax Italiano, was tormenting Newcastle’s defence on his first Premier League start. It took a desperate lunge from Taylor to deny him midway through the half.

But Paul Ince’s side increased their lead in the 41st minute. Villanueva picked out Emerton on the right and the Australian’s cross was headed home by Santa Cruz.

Newcastle had to raise their tempo in the second half to have any chance of snatching a point.

They were handed a chance to make an impression within two minutes of the restart. Geremi was fouled wide on the right to earn a free-kick, which Charles N’Zogbia curled in for Owen to head straight at Jason Brown.

The home side were appealing for a penalty for handball against Martin Olsson as he and Geremi jumped for Duff’s cross seconds later.

Referee Steve Tanner was unimpressed, but he did point to the spot when New Zealand defender Ryan Nelsen tripped Owen in the 49th minute.

The England striker smashed the spot-kick past Brown to claim his fourth goal in six games this season and give Newcastle a lifeline.

The Magpies could have been level within three minutes when Damien Duff picked out Geremi in the middle, but instead of volleying towards goal, the Cameroon international tried to control the ball and it ran away from him.

But Blackburn gradually began to work their way back into the game and did enough to hold on comfortably.

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