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Tue 18 Mar 2008 07:12 AM

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Owen equaliser gives Newcastle space

Michael Owen's second-half goal allayed Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan's relegation fears.

Michael Owen's second-half goal allayed Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan's relegation fears in securing a 1-1 Premiership draw at Birmingham on Monday night.

England coach Fabio Capello watched Owen show his predatory instincts in front of goal as he levelled matters 10 minutes into the second half with his seventh goal of the campaign.

James McFadden had given Birmingham a deserved half-time lead but it was a different story after the break when the Magpies looked the more menacing.

The Scot punished some poor defending to put the Blues ahead but the visitors were much improved in the second half to grab their equaliser through Owen.

McFadden said the hosts deserved three points.

"We were by far the best team in the first half. They were the better team in the second half but if we take our chances it's a different game."

"They've done well to come back into it and in the end we've done well to hang on."

McFadden pounced on an error by Abdoulaye Faye after 33 minutes before beating Steve Harper - but he admitted he did not think the goal would stand.

"I thought I was offside," he added on Setanta Sports. "But I've cut across the front of the defender and managed to put it away."

Keegan made four changes and fielded an attack-minded line-up.

Strikers Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins were handed their first starts under Keegan alongside Owen in what looked like being a 4-3-3 system.

Joey Barton and Geremi also came into the starting line-up while omitted were Alan Smith, Damien Duff, Charles N'Zogbia and the injured James Milner.

Blues boss Alex McLeish made just the one change from the side beaten 4-2 at Portsmouth last week with McFadden recalled in place of Mauro Zarate.

McFadden quickly made his presence felt for the home side. His dummy allowed Fabrice Muamba to make a good break down the right flank and his teasing cross was headed clear by Steven Taylor.

Then the former Everton player unleashed a 20-yard drive which took a slight deflection off Habib Beye and flashed only a couple of feet wide of Steve Harper's goal.

Then after 33 minutes McFadden broke the deadlock with his ninth goal of the campaign - and his fourth for Blues since his six million pound move from Everton.

There appeared little danger when David Murphy lofted the ball in the box but McFadden was able to turn Faye before clipping the ball wide of Harper into the corner of the net.

After 50 minutes Owen - unmarked 10 yards out - tried to curl the ball past Taylor but the Birmingham goalkeeper made an excellent reflex save to deny him at the expense of a corner.

However, Owen was not to be denied and after 56 minutes he levelled.

Taylor again did well to parry away a low drive from Martins but Owen was the first to react to the rebound and clipped it into the corner of the net.

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