Jonas Gutierrez struck in the fifth minute of stoppage time to send Newcastle through to the 4th Round of the FA Cup, at the expensive of sorry Blackburn Rovers.

The Premier League’s bottom club had taken a first-half lead through David Goodwillie’s close-range effort, but Hatem Ben Arfa equalised with a stunning individual goal. Newcastle dominated from there on, but had to wait until the dying embers of the game for Gutierrez to combine with Leon Best and finish well, sending his side through to the next round.

With the game coming just three days after the scintillating 3-0 home win over Manchester United, Alan Pardew was expected to name a much-changed team to the one that triumphed over the champions. However, the Magpies manager only made four changes to that side, with Best, Ben Arfa, Gabriel Obertan and Mehdi Abeid coming into the starting line-up.

Confidence was understandably high after the midweek win and Newcastle started against Rovers as they finished against the champions, with Best and Gutierrez both going close in the opening ten minutes. Mark Bunn in the Blackburn goal was equal to all that came his way early on, but Yohan Cabaye should have beaten him when supplied by Ben Arfa, but couldn’t grab his second goal in a week.

Blackburn, to their credit, responded well and came looking for the Geordies and went close when Ruben Rochina tested Tim Krul from range. The Dutch keeper was equal to it but could do nothing about a corner a few minutes later. Krul managed to palm away Grant Hanley’s header from Morten Gamst Pedersen’s corner but David Goodwillie pounced and claimed a tap-in to give the visitors the lead.

Newcastle responded by introducing Shola Ameobi in the second half and the Geordie veteran should have equalised but lifted his shot high and wide when through on goal.

After Ameobi’s miss, the Geordie faithful may have been thinking that today wasn’t going to be their day until Ben Arfa’s moment of magic brought the sides level.

Alan Pardew has said this week that he wants Ben Arfa to step into Demba Ba’s shoes and stake his claim for a first-team place with some good performances and the France international did just that today. Picking the ball up deep in his own half, the former Marseille man danced around numerous Blackburn defenders before slamming the ball high into Bunn’s net, demanding the attention of his manager.

There was no way Alan Pardew could have ignored that.

The goal gave the Magpies the momentum to go on and secure their place in the fourth round hat, and Mike Williamson almost completed the win on two occasions. First, he headed a Ryan Taylor corner back off the crossbar, before another flicked header was brilliantly kept out by Bunn.

However, the Blackburn keeper couldn’t deny the Geordies for much longer, and when Gutierrez played a neat one-two with Leon Best, the Argentina winger neatly lifted his finish over Bunn to send Newcastle marching on in the world’s most famous cup competition.


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  1. Razspur

    Maybe Harry can find a clause in Ben Arfa`s contract and get him to move to a bigger club also, you know a Top 3 club.


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