Fulham vs. Newcastle United: Final score 2-1, Cottagers drift away from relegation battlers

Ian Walton

It's been a rough few weeks for Fulham, but they're back ahead of Newcastle and seven points clear of the drop after their victory on Monday.

For the first time since October 20, Fulham have won a Premier League match. Their long skid of seven games without victory has come to an end, thanks to some lucky bounces and a brilliant header by Hugo Rodallega. Newcastle had plenty of chances late to equalize, but the Cottagers held on for a 2-1 win.

The Magpies looked half asleep in the first 30 minutes of the match, and only the heroics of Tim Krul kept them from going down by three or four goals. Krul was unfortunate on Fulham's opener, scored in the 19th minute on a deflected shot by Steve Sidwell that he could do nothing about. He made two brilliant saves on Dimitar Berbatov later in the half, and gave his side a chance heading into the second 45.

Hatem Ben Arfa, back from an injury layoff, hauled Newcastle back into the game with a stunning curled shot that fooled Mark Schwarzer. The ball appeared to take a slight deflection off a defender, but the path of the shot didn't alter enough to explain Schwarzer's complete lack of close proximity to the ball, as it hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced in from 20 yards out.

Some poor marking was to blame for Newcastle conceding the ultimate winner, scored by Rodallega in the 63rd minute. The Fulham striker lost his man at the back post on a curled free kick by Damien Duff, and directed a perfect header past Krul.

The final 30 minutes were wild, with both teams hitting the woodwork and forcing brilliant saves out of each goalkeeper. Fabricio Coloccini had Newcastle's best chance with a brilliant effort from 18 yards that hit the post, while Mladen Petric struck the crossbar late for Fulham. The Magpies sent everyone forward in the closing minutes in search for an equalizer, but were unable to breach Schwarzer's goal a second time.

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