independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Cottagers down Magpies

Hugo Rodallega, right, and Steve Sidwell scored as Fulham beat Newcastle

Fulham ended their long wait for a win on Monday night as Hugo Rodallega's header proved to be the winner in a 2-1 victory over Newcastle at Craven Cottage.

The Cottagers came into the game without a victory since mid-October but got off to an ideal start when Steve Sidwell's 19th-minute strike deflected off Mike Williamson and looped in. It was the home side's first goal in 317 minutes and they would have had several more was it not for some poor finishing and the fine form of goalkeeper Tim Krul.

Newcastle, though, were proving an increasing threat and Hatem Ben Arfa drew the visitors level in the 54th minute with a deflected effort before Rodallega headed home a free-kick by former United midfielder Damien Duff to secure the hosts all three points.

Fulham ended their goal drought in the 19th-minute as Duff as 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 Fabricio 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 Sascha Riether cross into the path of Berbatov, the Netherlands international did well to recover and deny the Bulgarian before Williamson cleared.

It begun 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 again denied them on the line, with Demba Ba the man frustrated this time.

Berbatov fired into the side-netting when Fulham returned to the attack, before Mark 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. The strike took a slight deflection off John Arne Riise but Schwarzer arguably should have done better, raising further questions about the Australian after a few mistakes of late.

Opposite number 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 floated in a cross from the right and Rodallega nodded home unmarked from six yards.

Press Association

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