Cisse nets late winner
Papiss Cisse eased Newcastle's relegation fears with an injury-time winner in the 1-0 win over Fulham on a day when it appeared as if luck had deserted the United striker.
Alan Pardew's side - and Cisse especially - had previously spurned a catalogue of chances at St James' Park against a Fulham side who suffered their first defeat in six games. But with frustration and anxiety growing, the Senegal forward finally beat Mark Schwarzer in the third minute of added-on time for his 11th goal of the season.
After a run of three straight defeats - two in the Barclays Premier League and a 3-1 loss to Benfica on Thursday in the first leg of a Europa League quarter-final tie, this was a crucial win for the Toon.
Newcastle should have gone into the break in front, only to see three opportunities go begging in the space of six minutes for Cisse either side of the half-hour mark. Twice Cisse was set up by Moussa Sissoko, but on both occasions his right-foot shots were wide, albeit his first much closer than his second as Schwarzer was relieved to see it flash just beyond his left-hand post.
The visitors, though, weathered the storm and countered late on with two chances of their own in a two-minute burst of activity. From Dimitar Berbatov's through ball, Bryan Ruiz's angled drive was blocked by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa for a corner eventually swung into the heart of the area by Giorgios Karagounis.
In a melee, Stanislav Manolev was the man who managed to get a boot on the ball inside the six-yard box, but a host of bodies denied him an opener in a half that eventually petered out. For 20 minutes after the interval, however, it was all Newcastle and another sustained spell where the only thing lacking was a goal.
Initially, Schwarzer was beaten in the 53rd minute via a deflection on to his bar as Emmanuel Frimpong, on minutes earlier for the injured Eyong Enoh, was in the way of a dipping shot from Vurnon Anita, who had earlier replaced the injured Davide Santon.
From a Sylvain Marveaux corner, Yoan Gouffran's initial flick appeared to brush Sascha Riether on the line on the way to clipping the right-hand upright, with claims for a penalty ignored by referee Kevin Friend. The rebound fell to Cisse, only for his hapless display to continue in front of goal as from four yards out he sidefooted against the same piece of woodwork.
Proving they were still in the game, Fulham almost stole it in the 68th minute as it took a brilliant fingertip save from Tim Krul to deny Berbatov with a header after he had latched on to a free-kick from John Arne Riise.
Towards the close, Cisse's agonising day continued as a goal-bound header to a right-wing cross from Anita was superbly turned away by Schwarzer in the 88th minute. But with the clock ticking, Cisse latched on to a loose ball in the area to beat Schwarzer from close range.