Gaël Givet delivers respite for under-fire Steve Kean
Blackburn Rovers 4 Newcastle United 3: Newcastle's remarkable unbeaten record this season was ended by Gaël Givet's diving header two hours into a pulsating Carling Cup tie. Blackburn, pegged back in normal time and again in extra time, took some of the immediate pressure off Steve Kean by progressing to the last eight.
It was a match that made both managers proud of their teams' efforts. Even in defeat, the Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, was full of praise for the way his team dug in: "The players just didn't know when to give in," he said. "It was a magnificent effort. If you're going to go out of the cup, that's the way to go out."
Kean, for his part, paid particular tribute to Givet, who insisted on playing on despite a hamstring injury. "We just weren't going to let the result get away from us," he said.
An early strike from the Cup specialist Ruben Rochina, and a second-half penalty by Yakubu seemed to have put Blackburn on their way to the last eight, despite an injury-time reply from Danny Guthrie. But with less than a minute of the extra five remaining, Yohan Cabaye lined up a free-kick 30 metres out and found the top corner of the net.
Rovers, however, got off to a stunning start after four minutes. Martin Olsson strode down the left touchline and swept in a low cross. It was met by Rochina, who sidefooted it past Tim Krul from the edge of the penalty area.
Newcastle almost struck back straight away through Demba Ba but for the rest of the half, however, it was all Rovers. Morten Gamst Pedersen had a fizzing 35-metre free-kick well saved and, just before the break, Yakubu became the latest Rover to go close to a second when the busy Krul held his shot.
Newcastle had a decent chance at the start of the second half, when Hatem Ben Arfa put his header on to the roof of the net. Marveaux also went close with a diving header as the Toon Army lifted their team.
Blackburn were primarily attacking on the breakaway now and twice looked dangerous through Yakubu. After 62 minutes, Rochina was going through, only to have his legs taken away by Krul, who was booked and then cleanly beaten by Yakubu's penalty.
Extra time was called for when Guthrie and Cabaye, with a last-gasp curling free-kick, levelled the game in the five minutes of injury time initially added on. A free-kick put Rovers back in front eight minutes into extra time, when Pedersen's effort took a deflection off the wall. But United equalised again when Peter Lovenkrands went down in the area then got up and converted the subsequent penalty.
That set the stage for two weary teams to be subjected to a deciding set of spot-kicks, but with two minutes to play Christopher Samba won Pedersen's free-kick and Givet dived in at the far post to decide it.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Bunn; Lowe, Samba, Givet, Olsson; Rochina (Vukcevic, 78), Pedersen, Petrovic, Hoilett (Hanley, 88); Yakubu (Formica, 66), Goodwillie. Substitutes not used Robinson (gk), Roberts, Anderson, Cotton.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson (Sammy Ameobi, 70), Perch, Coloccini, Santon; Marveaux (Obertan, 77), Guthrie, Cabaye, Gutierrez; Ba, Ben Arfa (Lovenkrands, 79). Substitutes not used Elliot (gk), Abeid, Gosling, Ranger.
Referee R Madley (West Yorkshire).