Tim Krul fortune favours Alan Pardew's 'smash and grab' Newcastle
Blackburn Rovers 0-2 Newcastle United: Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, paid tribute to his goalkeeper, Tim Krul, after what he admitted was a "smash and grab" raid on Blackburn.
Newcastle went into what Pardew called an "incredible" fifth place in the division, but it could not have happened without Krul, whose penalty save from David Dunn highlighted a commanding performance.
"His body language and his whole demeanour on th pitch suggested confidence," Pardew said. "It was no surprise to me when he saved the penalty."
Steve Kean, the Blackburn manager, was left ruing his own side's profligacy as well as their Krul luck. "We had enough chances to win three games," he said. "But sometimes you just have to credit the goalkeeper."
Newcastle were still without Demba Ba, not back yet from the African Cup of Nations, while Rovers gave a debut to the first of their January signings, Anthony Modeste, recruited from Bordeaux on loan. The new man made a decent initial impression with some neat early touches, but it was Newcastle who took the lead after 11 minutes.
Radosav Petrovic's hesitation gave the ball away in midfield, setting up a shot from Ryan Taylor. It was struck firmly enough, but would have been unlikely to beat Paul Robinson without a big deflection off Scott Dann.
That was typical of Blackburn's luck in a first half they dominated. Modeste was in on goal, but Fabricio Coloccini cleared and then Taylor had a double dose of good fortune when he fouled Junior Hoilett. He was ruled to have made contact just outside the area and also got a yellow rather than a red card. To add further insult to injury, Morten Gamst Pedersen's free-kick took as big a ricochet as Taylor's shot had done, but flew wide.
It seemed that Rovers must equalise two minutes before the break, when Danny Simpson did concede a penalty. Dunn took it, but Krul saved low to his left and then thwarted Gaël Givet's follow-up. The visitors were ahead at half-time, without particularly deserving it.
There was more of the same after the interval, with Rovers dominating the game territorially without being able to make their advantage pay off.
Perhaps inevitably, they became increasingly frustrated and untidy. Pedersen's chip sent Modeste away, but his finish was weak and the fruitless wait went on, with Krul saving instinctively from Dann's close-range header.
Substitute Ruben Rochina got in on the act by shooting into the side netting. To add a final, mocking touch, Gabriel Obertan scored a late second for Newcastle on the break.
Substitutes: Blackburn Rovers - Formica (Petrovic, 66), Rochina (Dunn, 78). Newcastle United - Perch (Ben Arfa, h-t), Lovenkrands (Best, 77), Obertan (R Taylor, 89).
Ewood Park: Blackburn - Lowe. Newcastle - R Taylor, Williamson.
Man of the match Krul. Match rating 6/10. Possession: Blackburn 44% Newcastle 56%.
Attempts on target: Blackburn 12 Newcastle 5.
Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire). Attendance 20,817.