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Newcastle boss Keegan delighted with Owen strike

The 28-year-old scored with a deft 60th-minute header - his first league goal since October 7 and his club's first in 455 minutes - to give Newcastle a 1-0 derby lead over Middlesbrough.

He had seen an earlier effort harshly ruled out for a foul on goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, and although he was not at his sharpest, he will head into Wednesday's international friendly against Switzerland with his edge rapidly returning.

Asked if Owen was ready to resume for England, Keegan said: "I think so. Have you seen his goal record - 88 games, 40 goals? It's incredible.

"He is fit, he is very fit now. Because he has not scored in the games for which I have been here until today, big names make big stories.

"Michael has worked really hard really hard today, but also in all the games since I have been here, and I don't think people have given him the credit for that.

"I have said publicly I don't think we have supplied him with enough chances, and that's the truth. If I as a manager am saying it, it is what we are thinking as a team.

"I wouldn't worry about Michael Owen. He will get goals - he always has and he always will - if you give him some chances."

Owen's strike was his fifth of the season, although it was enough to claim his side only a point as German defender Robert Huth snatched a point for the visitors with an 87th-minute header.

However, Keegan was left to bemoan two crucial decisions from referee Mike Dean which ultimately might have cost his side victory.

Only the official spotted anything wrong with Owen's fourth-minute effort after Schwarzer dropped the ball at his feet, and the Magpies boss could not believe Huth's goal was allowed to stand with two Boro men in offside positions in front of keeper Shay Given when the cross came in for Huth's equaliser.

He said: "I would like to ask him (Dean) what he saw wrong with Michael Owen's first goal and what anyone did to Schwarzer, because I didn't see it.

"We are very disappointed. If you see on TV the goal they got, it is definitely offside, there is no doubt about it in my mind.

"But they are the things that tend to go for you when you are at the top, and down at the bottom, they tend to go against you."

However, Boro boss Gareth Southgate, who saw an injury-time strike by Jeremie Aliadiere disallowed for offside after Stewart Downing's free-kick had come back off the post, insisted his side were worth at least a draw.

He said: "We were good value for at least a point. We had some cracking chances to go into the lead, and were then clearly disappointed with the goal we conceded.

"I know Michael is a fantastic player, but when somebody of his height gets in among the giants and scores with a header, it's disappointing.

"But the character we showed to bounce back from that and again create any number of further chances, I think we deserved the goal we got at the end."

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Tribal Football Staff

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