NEWCASTLE: Newcastle beat fellow struggler Middlesbrough 3-1 for Alan Shearer’s first victory as a coach on Monday to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone.
Substitutes Obafemi Martins and Peter Lovenkrands scored goals in the last 19 minutes to push Newcastle above Hull into 17th place on goal difference after next-to-last Boro had threatened an upset with a third minute goal at St. James Park. After only two points from five games, it looked bleak for Shearer but he finally led the Magpies to victory and a strong chance of survival after 20 consecutive seasons in the top flight.
“To go one-nil down and to comeback and show the character that they did — I think it’s the first time this season that we’ve went behind and won a game — I knew we had some characters in that dressing room and it’s been shown out there tonight,” Shearer said. “They were fantastic, each and every one of them.”
With two rounds of games remaining, Newcastle and Hull have 34 points and Middlesbrough and last place West Bromwich Albion have 31.
Despite the loss, Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate said he was proud of his team.
“We did have a terrific start, I think there were a few turning points in the game which were crucial, but even though we’ve lost I’m very proud of what is a young group of players that had to grow in to men tonight and they’ll take that experience with them for a long time,” Southgate said.
Without a goal for 10 league games, Michael Owen returned to the Newcastle line-up after being dropped for the 3-0 loss to Liverpool but Boro took an early lead.
A shot by Tuncay Sanli was blocked by Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper but the loose ball came off Newcastle defender Habib Beye and rolled into the net.
Mark Viduka volleyed against the post as Newcastle continued to threaten and Steven Taylor headed home a ninth minute equaliser from a corner by Danny Guthrie.
Owen was replaced by Martins with almost 20 minutes remaining and the Nigerian had only been on the field for 55 seconds when he gave Newcastle the lead. He collected a header from Viduka and skipped past a defender before firing Newcastle ahead with a low shot.
“Someone once said to me it’s better to be a lucky manager than a good one,” Shearer said. “You make substitutions at that time hoping they’ll have an impact but I’d be a liar if I said I’d put him on to make an impact that quick.”
Lovenkrands added the third in the 86th minute when he ran onto Kevin Nolan’s pass to fire home.
The result: Newcastle United 3 (Steven Taylor 9, Obafemi Martins 71, Peter Lovenkrands 86) bt Middlesbrough 1 (Habib Beye 3-og). — AP