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Fulham deserve win - Observer

last updated Sunday 18th November 2001, 10:38 AM
Fulham 3 (2) - 1 (0) Newcastle
A thoroughly deserved Fulham victory and a scoreline to flatter a Newcastle side which came to London with an outside chance of sharing the lead at the top of the Premiership table - had they won.

But this did not seem to be the same Newcastle side with a win over Manchester United to their name and which thrashed Aston Villa last time. They can be as bad as they can be good so far this season and have failed to win their last 27 games in the capital.

Newcastle were the better team for the opening 20 minutes and could have led when Craig Bellamy's considerable skills took him past Andy Melville to create a great chance only for Edwin van der Sar to recover from a slip and save an unconvincing low shot.

Seconds later Fulham were ahead and suddenly Newcastle looked harmless. A second Fulham goal followed soon after and Newcastle were off the pace. Louis Saha, rejected by Newcastle two years ago after a six-month injury-plagued stay, scored Fulham's opener to indicate that he could yet make a significant impact at this level. Having exchanged passes with fellow Frenchman Sylvain Legwinski on the edge of the area he curled an unstoppable ball over goalkeeper Shay Given.

With Newcastle offering little resistance, Legwinski scored the second in the 28th minute with a low drive after Saha and Steed Malbranque had combined to set him up.

Given, a hero for the Republic of Ireland in Tehran last Thursday, then made a series of good saves to stop Fulham running away with it. Perhaps it would be a bit unfair to say Newcastle folded when they were up against it, but that's what it looked like

They were not much better after half-time and Fulham missed further good chances to put the game to bed. Saha was a constant threat and only Given kept Newcastle alive. Having failed to finish the job when the going was good, Fulham handed Newcastle further hope when they relaxed at the back and conceded a 65th-minute goal. Aaron Hughes whipped in a cracking cross from the right and Gary Speed headed in unchallenged from six yards out.

Newcastle soon blew cold again, though, and were two goals behind just five minutes later when they failed to deal with a Malbranque corner and Barry Hayles headed in Fulham's third at the far post.

Alan Shearer betrayed the frustration of his team when, for dissent, he became their sixth player booked. Shearer had a chance to smile when he took a 78th-minute penalty, inexplicably awarded by referee Eddie Wolstenholme for Alain Gomas' challenge on Robert, but Van Der Sar tipped the shot onto a post. Shearer was then bundled over by Goma as he tried to finish on the rebound. That should have been a penalty, but somehow justice was done as Fulham ran out worthy winners.

Van der Sar, Finnan, Melville, Goma, Brevett, Davis, Malbranque (Goldbaek 88), Legwinski, Collins (Clark 67), Hayles, Saha.
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Ouaddou, Stolcers.

Saha 19, Legwinski 28, Hayles 70


Given, Hughes, Dabizas (Distin 75), O'Brien, Elliott, Solano (Lua-Lua 77), Lee (Ameobi 90), Speed, Robert,
Shearer, Bellamy.
Subs Not Used: Acuna, Harper.
Booked: Elliott, Dabizas, Robert, O'Brien, Lee, Shearer.

Speed 64

Att: 21,159 Ref: E Wolstenholme (Blackburn).

Game Stats Fulham Newcastle
Goal attempts
On target
Hit woodwork
Source The Observer by Nick Callow
Since 1998
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