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Fulham so good - The Sun

last updated Sunday 18th November 2001, 9:24 AM
Fulham 3 (2) - 1 (0) Newcastle
LOUIS SAHA scored his first goal in three months as Newcastle's appalling run continued in the capital.

Bobby Robson's side have now not won a game in their last 27 trips to London - a run stretching back more than four years. And they were not helped by former England captain Alan Shearer missing a second-half penalty.

Robson said: "It’s mysterious how we never seem to be able to get a result in London. I don’t have a phobia about it. "We were quite confident, but somehow it just went wrong. "I thought we were well on the way to getting a result in the first 20 minutes. Saha’s goal wasn’t made by any clever play, as he just picked a loose ball in midfield. "We didn’t press him and he had five seconds to turn on it and get a sight of goal. He hit a majestic shot and it was a marvellous goal."

Newcastle’s Republic of Ireland World Cup hero Shay Given was undone twice inside 10 first-half minutes as Fulham claimed their third straight victory.

Sylvain Legwinski gets Fulham's second goal
Sylvain Legwinski gets Fulham's second goal
Sylvain Legwinski Profile
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First, Saha smacked home a sensational curling shot from well outside the box. Then Legwinski thumped home a second after a precise Steed Malbranque through-ball.

Gary Speed gave United hope with a powerful header, but a predatory strike from Barry Hayles wrapped up Fulham’s fully-deserved 3-1 triumph.

Shearer’s late penalty was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Edwin van der Sar - and the United skipper appeared to be fouled by Alain Goma as he tried to tuck home the rebound.

Robson raged: "It was twice the penalty of the original decision. It was clear cut. "Shearer was bundled off the ball attempting to lay it into an empty net. Their man took his legs completely and could have been sent off."

Fulham boss Jean Tigana said he would not rest on his laurels. Tigana is aware that next month’s fixtures -including matches against Leeds, Tottenham and Manchester United - could derail Fulham’s promising season.

Asked if he planned to buy another forward, he said: "December is a big month as we have seven games. We need a big squad, and if it’s possible to buy one good, young player, why not? "I would like my team to finish between eighth and 12th, but the priority for the club is to stay at the top level. My vision is to get 41 points. We’ll try to get those points - and then it’s possible to dream about more than that.

"We try and play very well, but it’s difficult to win all the time. Many of my players have never played at the top level, and you need to play to learn. "It was a big mistake to lose points against Charlton and Ipswich, but now my team is playing very well. I’m happy today because we played a very strong team, and when we lead 2-0 I was very relaxed on the bench.”

Bazza Hayles  
            gets Fulham's third goal
Bazza Hayles gets Fulham's third goal
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Jean Tigana's side had a firm grip on the game by half-time, going in 2-0 up thanks to superb strikes from Saha and Legwinksi.

Saha had double reason to celebrate his opener on 22 minutes. It ended his barren run in front of goal and came against one of his former clubs. Saha endured a miserable six-month loan spell at St James' Park in 1999.

The Frenchman's goal was a beauty, as he collected a pass from Legwinski and took two touches before unleashing a brilliant 25-yard left-foot shot which gave Shay Given no chance.

Ten minutes later the Cottagers doubled their lead.

John Collins and Saha were involved in the build-up before Malbranque slipped a delightful ball inside United left-back Rob Elliott and into Legwinski's path. The midfielder powered the ball past Given's outstretched right hand.

Fulham began to run the Newcastle backline ragged, with only two blocks from Given preventing first Malbranque and then Hayles making it 3-0.

Saha should have put the match beyond Newcastle five minutes after the break. Malbranque pounced on a mis-hit defensive pass towards Andy O'Brien and put Saha clean through.

But Given made a vital block as the ball hit his elbow and deflected to safety.

After being outplayed for much of the match, the Toon gave themselves a lifeline on 66 minutes. Aaron Hughes swung over a cross from the right wing and Gary Speed climbed above the home defence to thump a fine header into the bottom left of Edwin van der Sar's net.

Five minutes later Fulham restored their two-goal cushion.

A Malbranque corner from the left was flicked on and Hayles was first react to beat Given with a back-post header from six yards.

Shearer's penalty miss left Newcastle anxiously looking at their fixture lists. They don't have to wait long to try to end their London hoodoo - their next away game is against Charlton at The Valley.

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).
Source The Sun
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