Duff and Fulham back on track
Fulham 2 Newcastle 1:Damien Duff helped Fulham to victory over Newcastle United, when he laid on goals in each half for Steve Sidwell and Hugo Rodallega at Craven Cottage. Fulham's first victory in eight games keeps them 13th in the Premier League, three points and one place ahead of the visitors, who are without an away win in eight.
Newcastle equalised Sidwell's deflected opener through a brilliant 20-metre strike by midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, which flew into the net off the underside of the crossbar, but they were unable to strike back after Duff crossed for Rodallega to head home, though they did come close when Fabricio Coloccini's powerful shot struck the crossbar.
The Whites made five changes for tonight’s game and started brightly, with winger Alex Kacaniklic shooting wide after just 55 seconds.
It was the first of a number of early Fulham half chances, although the Magpies soon settled. After a few warning shots, Papiss Cisse collected a poor Mark Schwarzer clearance and came close to finding Demba Ba.
The chance seemed to jolt Fulham into life and Rodallega came close with an acrobatic strike after collecting a ball from Duff. The pair linked up again in the 19th minute as Fulham ended their goal drought as the latter pulled back for Sidwell, whose strike took a deflection off Williamson and looped over Krul.
After waiting more than five hours for a goal, Fulham fans almost got to witness two in as many minutes.
Dimitar Berbatov cut out a weak Cheick Tiote pass and burst past Coloccini at the halfway line, only for Krul to thwart the Fulham frontman when through on goal. The former Manchester United striker was again denied by Krul in the 29th minute.
After only managing to palm a fierce Riether cross into the path of Berbatov, the Netherlands international did well to recover and deny the Bulgarian before Williamson cleared.
It began a spell of Newcastle pressure that saw them come close to levelling in the 31st minute, with Riether having to clear a powerful Coloccini header from the edge of the box off the line.
Newcastle were again cursing the German right-back on the stroke of half-time when he denied them on the line, with Ba the man frustrated this time.
The visitors continued in the ascendancy when the second half resumed, with Anita — managed by Fulham’s Martin Jol during the pair’s time at Ajax — flashed a 47th-minute strike just over the bar.
Berbatov fired into the side-netting when Fulham returned to the attack, before Schwarzer looked on as Ben Arfa struck a 54th-minute equaliser. The Frenchman marked his return to the starting line-up after four games out with a goal from 22 yards that curled in off the crossbar.
Krul was having no such problems and did well to deny Sidwell as he searched for a second.
The Netherlands international was soon beaten, though, as Duff curled in a free from the right and Rodallega nodded home unmarked from six yards.
Berbatov saw penalty appeals waved away soon after the 63rd-minute header, before Fulham sat back and waited for chances on the counter-attack.
Coloccini flicked clear as Berbatov threatened, before the Newcastle captain saw an exquisite curled strike hit the crossbar at the other end. Substitute Shola Ameobi, Ba and Jonas Gutierrez were all denied by Schwarzer as United pushed for a leveller, before Aaron Hughes blocked a late Ba strike.
Berbatov was denied a deserved goal as the game came to a close and substitute Mladen Petric clipped the post from distance.