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Newcastle 1-3 Fulham Cham 36 1617 - Daily Telegraph

last updated Sunday 12th March 2017, 2:29 PM

Daily Telegraph
Jason Mellor at Daily Telegraph

Newcastle United (0) 1-3 (1) Fulham

This was not how Rafa Benítez had envisaged celebrating his first anniversary at Newcastle.

The Spaniard has been at pains to reiterate his side is far from past the post in the Championship promotion race, and his words are in danger of becoming prophetic after two second-half goals from the prodigious Ryan Sessegnon condemned the hosts to one of the most damaging defeats of the manager’s 54-game reign.

Fresh from collecting seven points from consecutive trips to three of their closest rivals for the two automatic places, their fragility in front of their own supporters was ruthlessly exploited by a Fulham side now unbeaten in seven league games and who look a decent bet to sneak into the top six by the season’s end.

Benítez’s side remain top, on goal difference from Brighton.

They enjoy a six-point cushion to Huddersfield in third, who have a game in hand and who can further reduce that deficit on Friday night against Bristol City.

The Tyneside club might consider asking to switch their remaining nine games to opposition territory after a fifth home defeat. No side in the top 10 has lost more in front of their own supporters this season.

“We let a good team play how they like to play,” conceded Benítez, who saw his team fail to create barely a chance of note aside from substitute Daryl Murphy’s 76th minute strike from the edge of the area.

“The effort and work-rate was there, but we paid for our mistakes.

Too many times we made the wrong decisions, and that’s something we need to improve, because if we want to stay at the top of the table, we have to manage this kind of game better.”

It was hard to overstate the comfort with which Fulham became only the second side to seal a league double over the leaders this season.

Tom Cairney, who was flawless in midfield, put them head in the 15th minute courtesy of an imperious long-range effort from Scott Malone’s square pass, before Sone Aluko and Neeskens Kebano both spurned opportunities to further increase their advantage before the interval.

That was quickly forgotten as the visitors forged a three-goal advantage inside the hour as Sessegnon applied assured finishes at the culmination of two 60-yard counter-attacks of surgical precision.

The teenager was denied the opportunity of a first career hat-trick in stoppage time when Paul Dummett brought down Gohi Cyriac in the area. With the result not in doubt,

Tim Ream harshly pulled rank on the 16-year-old, and promptly fired wide.

Victory at home to Blackburn on Tuesday will propel Fulham above Sheffield Wednesday into sixth.

Slavisa Jokanovic, the head coach, said: “We thoroughly deserved this result. We were strong and had control of the game, and it’s a great step forward for us.”

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