Tue 27 Feb 2024, 23:12 · Ash Harrison

Fortunate Newcastle through to FA Cup quarter-final after penalty drama at Ewood Park

Fortunate Newcastle through to FA Cup quarter-final after penalty drama at Ewood Park
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Sometimes luck is just on your side and that was very much the case for Newcastle United tonight as they scraped into the draw for the FA Cup quarter-finals.

It took a penalty shootout to seal the deal after Newcastle were once again extremely poor on the night, but it doesn't matter how you get through, as long as you get through.

Eddie Howe made five changes to the team that faced Arsenal on Saturday night, something he's not been able to do very often this season, the result of which meant that we had a decent bench for once too.

Miguel Almiron came off the bench to help Newcastle break the deadlock

It was the substitutes that came in clutch for Newcastle too as it took Miguel Almiron coming off the bench to lay on the assist for Anthony Gordon to open the scoring in the 71st minute, however, it was a lead that would only last eight minutes as Blackburn's goal machine Sammie Szmodics levelled things up. That was how the score remained for the duration of the 90 minutes and indeed the entirety of extra time.

Bruno and Dubravka
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Martin Dubravka congratulated by Bruno Guimaraes after saving Blackburn's fifth penalty

It was frankly baffling how the game made it as far as penalties, but that seemed to be down to two men in particular, Martin Dubravka and Aynsley Pears, the two goalkeepers. Both 'keepers made some unbelievable, match-winning saves throughout the game, slightly aided by poor finishing from both sides, but the 'keeper has to be in the right place to stop even a poor shot.

It was M-Dubz who was already cruising for a Player of the Match award who ensured he'd grab that title in the penalty shootout saving two of Blackburn's spot-kicks.

Naturally, it went down to the last penalty before it entered into sudden death, such was the script of the game. Blackburn's hero Szmodics missed his penalty, Blackburn's first, hitting a tame effort that was kept out by Dubravka - it was starting to look like Newcastle's night. However, substitute Harvey Barnes had other ideas, opting to copy Szmodics and giving Pears with an easy save.

Martin Dubravka returned to the side to put in a heroic performance

Dominic Hyam had the chance to send the shootout to sudden death but Martin Dubravka was equal to his effort, keeping the shot out and sending Newcastle into tomorrow's quarter-final draw.

On the balance of play, Newcastle probably didn't deserve to go through, and in truth were helped out massively by referee Jarred Gillett who seemed to ignore so many fouls that would have benefitted the home side including a spectacular handball by Fabian Schar. We're not complaining though.

It was far from the response to Saturday's annihilation we were hoping for, and some players looked well below their best - Kieran Trippier looking back to his end-of-2023 form and Jamaal Lascelles making us wish we'd sent him backing to Turkey when we had the chance - but as we said at the top, it doesn't matter how you do it, a win is a win.

Now, who do we get next and how far can we go?