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Match Report - Newcastle 1 Fulham 4

last updated Sunday 07th November 2004, 10:28 PM
Steed Malbranque
Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque gets a brace at Toon Town

Fulham staged a classic smash-and-grab raid at Newcastle to claim a stunning 4-1 victory.

Battered to the very brink of submission for more than an hour, Chris Coleman's side had keeper Mark Crossley to thank for a series of remarkable saves as shots and headers rained in on his goal.

But for Crossley, the Magpies might have scored seven or eight, but by the time they did finally beat him, the game had been snatched from their grasp by a ruthless display of counter-attacking football.

If Collins John's opener came against the run of play and courtesy of a generous decision by referee Howard Webb, there was little wrong with what was to follow as Steed Malbranque scored the second and third and laid on a fourth for Luis Boa Morte.

Craig Bellamy pulled one back 13 minutes from time, but Newcastle's humiliation was complete as they slumped to a second successive Barclays Premiership defeat against a side they fully expected to beat comfortably.

Graeme Souness had warned his players to expect a much tougher test than they had endured against Dinamo Tbilisi on Thursday evening, although he may not have expected it to come in the form it did.

The first half was the story of two men, one as a result of his brilliance, the other because of the two main talking points in the game.

Crossley was the man who excelled himself with a series of stunning saves as the Magpies ripped into their opponents with a real relish.

The game was only three minutes old when Lee Bowyer played a one-two with Patrick Kluivert down the right and thumped in a rising shot which Crossley did well to parry and then recover in time to beat away Bellamy's volleyed follow-up.

His left foot came to the rescue 11 minutes later when Jenas broke down the same flank and squared to Bowyer, who's left-footed effort seemed destined for the bottom corner until the keeper intervened.

Fulham keeper Mark Crossley
Fulham were indebted to a another superb display from keeper Mark Crossley. His goal was under siege for the majority of the 90 minutes and he made 18 saves

Robbie Elliott was next to try his luck, meeting an Olivier Bernard cross with a firm header which Crossley just managed to palm around the post, and he got his slice of luck six minutes before half-time when Bellamy's shot was hacked off the line and Kluivert smashed the rebound into his face from point-blank range.

In the meantime, however, the visitors had taken the lead and managed to preserve it with a helping hand from referee Mr Webb.

The official ruled that Zat Knight had not fouled Alan Shearer deep inside the Fulham half when most of the 51,118 spectators at St James' Park thought otherwise, and Papa Bouba Diop and Boa Morte moved the ball swiftly upfield to allow John to beat keeper Steve Harper, standing in for Shay Given for the first time in the Premiership since January 2001 as the Irishman attended the birth of his first child.

Mr Webb did little to redeem himself in the eyes of the home supporters on 31 minutes when Diop appeared to fell Shearer inside the penalty area as he ran on to Kluivert's return pass, and Souness' protests saw him sent from the bench.

Fulham's late return after the break simply served to galvanise the home side and it took a superb 48th-minute block by Knight to deny Shearer after Kluivert had cleverly played him in.

For all the pressure, the visitors were defending perhaps more comfortably than they had at any other point in the game, and Souness knew he had to try something different.

To that end, he sent on winger Laurent Robert for Aaron Hughes with 57 minutes gone and the Frenchman almost did the trick within a minute.

Robert took control from a free-kick 30 yards out after Diop had fouled Shearer and drove in a swerving free-kick which Crossley just managed to turn away at the death.

Match Stats Newcastle Fulham
Goals 1 4
Possession 54% 46%
Goal attempts 26 11
On Target 20 7
Corners 19 0
Fouls 12 16
Yellows 1 1
Reds 0 0
source: soccernet

The keeper excelled himself once again on 63 minutes to keep out Kluivert's powerfully-struck shot on the turn, and Fulham took full advantage to increase their lead two minutes later.

Cole robbed O'Brien and squared for Steed Malbranque to fire past the helpless Harper and make it 2-0.

Souness went for broke by replacing left-back Bernard with striker Shola Ameobi, but the Magpies simply fell apart.

Malbranque made it 3-0 from the penalty spot on 70 minutes after Elliott had felled substitute Tomasz Radzinski, and Boa Morte made it four 14 minutes from time after being sent clear by Malbranque with the home defence - or what was left of it - in complete disarray.

Bellamy pulled one back with a back-post header a minute later, and although the Magpies laid siege to Crossley's goal to the death, their hopes had died long before.

Newcastle Harper, Hughes (Robert 57), Elliott, O'Brien, Bernard (Ameobi 68), Bellamy, Butt, Bowyer, Jenas, Shearer, Kluivert.
Subs Not Used: Bramble, Johnsen, Caig.

Booked: O'Brien.

Goals: Bellamy 77.

Fulham Crossley, Volz, Knight, Rehman, Bocanegra, Malbranque, Diop, Pembridge, Boa Morte, Cole, John (Radzinski 57).
Subs Not Used: Legwinski, McBride, Rosenior, Van der Sar.

Booked: Volz(45,f).

Goals: John 28, Malbranque 65, 71 pen, Boa Morte 76.

Att: 51,118

Ref: H Webb (S Yorkshire).

Source Sporting Life
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