Birthday boy Michael Owen gave himself the present of the opening goal as Newcastle beat Portsmouth 3-0 at Fratton Park for their first away Premier League win this season on Sunday. Owen turned 29. Forward Obafemi Martins added a second goal 13 minutes from time before Danny Guthrie made it 3-0 in the 89th minute as Newcastle climbed of the relegation zone and into 14th place. The win left them just a point above bottom three north-east rivals Sunderland. Pompey remained eighth after a loss that marked the end of a five-match unbeaten league run.
They missed several chances with Owen's fellow England striker Jermain Defoe particularly wasteful minutes after the Magpies had gone ahead. Owen broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute after Portsmouth's Arnold Mvuemba carelessly had given the ball to Jonas Gutierrez, who played in the striker on the left-hand side. A poor first touch took Owen away from goal but his second was sublime as he chipped the ball over onrushing England goalkeeper David James.
"If you keep a clean sheet then you're always liable to nick one, then they had to come out a bit more and we managed to pick them off a bit," Owen said. "To nick the first one was good, it was a great ball by Jonas [Gutierrez], the first touch was just a little bit heavy, I was stretching for it a bit, and then I managed to dink it over the 'keeper but obviously I took a right clattering. I thought he [James] was trying to give me a broken leg or something."
Soon afterwards Pompey's Noe Pamarot headed over from a corner and then Defoe, found space following a fine run and a cross from Sean Davis down the right flank, shot wide of keeper Shay Given's near post. Martins made sure of victory when Portsmouth conceded possession from a throw-in near their own box. Jose Enrique seized on the loose ball and released Martins. James went to the ground early and the Nigeria international's calm finish made it 2-0 in the 77th minute. Guthrie put the icing on the birthday cake for Owen, 29 on Sunday, when he met Shola Ameobi's pull-back with a right-foot shot that went straight through James's hands.
Owen's goal was a vivid reminder, as if they needed one, of what Newcastle would be missing if the former Liverpool and Real Madrid forward left the club. Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear is due to hold talks with Owen next week regarding a new contract. Owen is on a £103,000-a-week ($153,969 US) deal that expires at the end of the season.
The cash-strapped Magpies could cash in on their prize asset during the January transfer window rather than suffer the financial loss that would come if Owen decided to leave as a free agent at the season's end.
"Obviously, there's a lot made of it," Owen told Sky Sports. "There's quite a few players who are running out of their contracts. What do you want me to say? "None of us have been offered a contract so there's no bad guys here, I've not refused anything. "As soon as they speak to me obviously I'll have more news for you."
Defoe could have had a hat-trick in the first-half alone, firing over from outside the box and side-footing above the crossbar from close range. Niko Kranjcar then saw his deflected shot well-saved by Given and from the resulting corner Pompey might have had a penalty when former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt appeared to handle in the box. Defoe, who might have won a spot-kick when fouled by Sebastien Bassong, missed another chance before the break when he shot wide after being played in by England strike partner Peter Crouch.