Soccer

Newcastle ‘desperate to achieve’ FA Cup success – Eddie Howe

The Magpies beat Championship Blackburn on penalties.

Eddie Howe congratulates goalkeeper Martin Dubravka after Newcastle’s penalty shoot-out win
Eddie Howe congratulates goalkeeper Martin Dubravka after Newcastle's penalty shoot-out win over Blackburn Eddie Howe congratulates goalkeeper Martin Dubravka after Newcastle’s penalty shoot-out win (Nick Potts/PA)

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe hailed a “big moment” in his side’s season after they scraped past Championship Blackburn on penalties in the FA Cup on Tuesday.

Martin Dubravka saved two spot-kicks as the Magpies prevailed 4-3 in the shoot-out after the game had ended 1-1 after extra time.

With the club having slipped to 10th in the Premier League in what has been a largely underwhelming campaign after last year’s top-four finish, the cup now represents the best chance to maintain their upward trajectory.

Eddie Howe, centre, and his staff and substitutes watch the penalty shoot-out
Eddie Howe, centre, and his staff and substitutes watch the penalty shoot-out Eddie Howe, centre, and his staff and substitutes watch the penalty shoot-out (Nick Potts/PA)

Howe said: “Obviously a lot was riding on the outcome so I thought the players handled the moment brilliantly, the goalkeeper and outfield players who took the penalties.

“It was big moment in our season at such a crucial stage.

“The players are desperate to achieve. No-one is underestimating the importance of the FA Cup.”

Howe also praised the heroics of Dubravka after the Slovakia keeper had been ill in the build-up to the game.

He said: “The two penalty saves were huge for us but in open play I thought he really performed well and we needed him to because they had a few big moments.

“He’s been playing feeling slightly ill and he deserves huge credit for doing that. He was nowhere near fit for the weekend against Arsenal and hasn’t been 100 per cent for quite a long period of time.”

Martin Dubravka saves Dominic Hyam’s penalty in the shoot-out
Martin Dubravka saves Dominic Hyam's penalty in the shoot-out Martin Dubravka saves Dominic Hyam’s penalty in the shoot-out (Nick Potts/PA)

Dubravka kept Blackburn at bay with a number of saves before Newcastle broke the deadlock in the 71st minute through Anthony Gordon.

Blackburn responded well and levelled through the impressive Sammie Szmodics and both sides had chances to win it, in normal time and extra time, but it came down to penalties and Dubravka kept out efforts from Szmodics and Dominic Hyam.

Howe said: “I thought we got better as it went on. I don’t think the first half was particularly good, I thought the second half was better and extra time was our best spell of the game by a long way.

“Really we shouldn’t have allowed it to go to penalties with the chances we missed in extra time.”

Blackburn manager John Eustace was pleased with the effort of his side, who played at a level above that of a team 16th in the Championship.

Eustace, who is still awaiting his first win after taking charge earlier this month, said: “When it goes down to penalties it’s a bit of a lottery but I’m very, very proud of the squad that we used and also very proud of the supporters.

“I couldn’t ask for any more effort and desire and togetherness. You can see that everyone’s really fighting and looking after each other and you can see the style of play improving game by game.

“We’re making small steps forward. We’re playing against a top Premier League team, top players, and you could see that we could hurt them in certain areas. On another day we could have had a couple more goals.”