Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka targets FA Cup glory after penalty heroics

By Sports Desk February 28, 2024

Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka set his sights on the trophy after his penalty shoot-out heroics helped Newcastle into the FA Cup quarter-finals.

The Slovakian, who missed last weekend’s hammering at Arsenal due to illness, saved twice as the Magpies scraped past Championship Blackburn 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park on Tuesday.

Dubravka denied Sammie Szmodics, who had cancelled out Anthony Gordon’s opener in normal time, and then touched the final kick of the night from Rovers captain Dom Hyam on to a post.

The cup now appears to be sustaining Newcastle’s season given that their Champions League challenge has faded and Dubravka wants to bring major silverware to the club for the first time since 1969.

“We are delighted to be there,” Dubravka told NUFC TV. “It was difficult match for us with chances on both sides. I’m really happy that we are there now.

“We want to win the trophies, obviously, so we try to go for it. I think this could lift our confidence.

“We needed a reaction after the Arsenal game and I think this was a great example. We need to build on this.

“Obviously there were a couple of moments in the match that we did amazing, but also, on the other side, there were a couple of moments where have to do it better.

“We are still in a learning process, but I think we are in a good place now.”

Newcastle failed to make an impression in the first half and it was Blackburn who dominated, with the impressive Szmodics proving a handful.

The balance changed after the break and Newcastle edged ahead after 71 minutes through Gordon, but Rovers roared back, with Szmodics tucking in after Dilian Markanday’s thunderous effort had been tipped on to the bar.

Both sides had chances to win the game in normal and extra-time before it came down to the penalty shoot-out. The drama continued as Szmodics and Ashley Barnes both had efforts saved, but Dubravka had the final say.

“Obviously you hope that you don’t go to the penalties because it’s a lottery,” Dubravka said. “You never know what’s going to happen there.

“It’s the nerves. You can’t really prepare for this kind of situation. It’s personal behaviour and confidence.”

Defeat was harsh on a Blackburn side whose performance belied their lowly position in the Championship, but manager John Eustace, who is still awaiting his first win after five games in charge, saw the positives.

He said: “You could see the group are gelling as we want. It’s just small steps, but that’s the second time now we’ve come from behind at home.

“The lads have shown me that they’re a good, young, hungry group with some good experience and we’ve just got to keep working hard.”

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    Silva denied a theory that the delay to his penalty, caused by the ball needing to be retrieved from the crowd, had affected him mentally.

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    Veteran defender Thiago Silva said: “I think it’s laughable. I don’t like to talk about the referees, especially after a defeat as it looks like an excuse, but I believe VAR could have sent the ref to the monitor.

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    Silva, 39, is out of contract at the end of the season and promised to reveal his future plans soon.

    The Brazilian said: “You are going to know in the coming days. I don’t want to say anything now after a defeat, I’m sad about the result, but sooner or later the news will come out.

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    The FA has not commented directly but its position on such matters is that the needs of the clubs, local authorities, police and broadcasters all need to be considered and balanced. It schedules all ties collaboratively.

    In this case, the matter is also complicated by Chelsea having a rearranged Premier League game against Arsenal next Tuesday.

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