Match report: Hugo Rodallega gives Fulham cheer as Newcastle face bleak midwinter

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Fulham 2 Newcastle United 1

This has been an awful autumn for Newcastle United and could well be a very difficult Christmas. Last season they threatened the Champions League, but tonight they lost again, defeated 2-1 by a Fulham side who might have scored three or four more.

Nearly halfway through the season, this has gone far beyond a slow start. This was Newcastle’s fifth defeat in six games, not one of them against a team likely to finish in the top six. Those opponents are yet to come: Newcastle host Manchester City on Saturday before travelling to Manchester United and Arsenal between Christmas and New Year. 2012 was nearly a brilliant year at St James’ Park but it could well end rather uncomfortably.

Newcastle finished last season one point ahead of Chelsea. They are now just two ahead of Southampton, Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic, and four clear of 18th placed Sunderland. “It’s a worry,” admitted Alan Pardew afterwards. “We haven’t got enough points on the board.”

Pardew did not sound too upset with the performance but Newcastle lacked cohesion, control and balance. Without Yohan Cabaye there is no direction to their midfield. Vurnon Anita has not yet settled into the Premier League while Cheikh Tiote was dismal, doing almost nothing right all night. He gave the ball away almost every time he touched it, and gifted away the free-kick from which Hugo Rodallega headed in Fulham’s winner. “It was a cheap free-kick,” regretted Pardew, “and a soft goal.”

Newcastle’s defence was little better. Fabricio Coloccini was often left covering for the mistakes of others, desperately trying to do the work of four men. Tim Krul had to charge out to make good saves from Dimitar Berbatov and Steve Sidwell. Fulham were not excellent but will be frustrated to have only scored twice.

Although Fulham’s goals were finished by Sidwell and Rodallega, there was no doubt whatsoever as to their best player. To point out that Berbatov’s touch and vision were magnificent is a waste of words but he was brilliant again. This was not obviously the perfect game for him, as it was so frantic and frenetic, but he did his remarkable best to bend it his way. To choose one illustrative moment from the first half: Mark Schwarzer kicked the ball into the clouds and as it returned Berbatov trapped it on his stomach mid-spin to beat Coloccini.

“He was special tonight,” admitted Pardew afterwards. “Everything he seemed to pluck out of the sky, it would just die on his toe.” Martin Jol was delighted with how Berbatov took creative responsibility in the absence of Bryan Ruiz. “He was vital, he linked us up and kept the team together. Although he didn’t score, he covered more ground than ever before. He was probably a bit tired when we needed him to score goals.”

Berbatov did miss two good chances to put Fulham 2-0 up, either side of half-time. But he need not have worried. Rodallega was there to be a more direct threat and he succeeded, making the first goal and scoring the second.

After 19 minutes Rodallega, on the right hand side, spun past a challenge before playing in Damien Duff behind Coloccini. Duff rolled the ball back to the edge of the box where Steve Sidwell, arriving from midfield, scored via Mike Williamson’s thigh, the cross-bar and the goal-line.

In the second half, Rodallega re-took the lead for Fulham, rising highest from Duff’s free-kick to head past Krul.

Newcastle had been level for 11 minutes. Their equaliser had, unsurprisingly, come from nowhere. Hatem Ben Arfa, the second most talented player on the pitch, had the ball on the right hand side. Everyone was expecting a cross, including Schwarzer. But Ben Arfa shuffled inside Sidwell and curled the ball round John Arne Riise and into the near top corner of the goal.

Coloccini did shoot against the bar but Newcastle created almost nothing, despite throwing bodies forward in the second half. Fulham had more than enough chances to kill the game on the break but could not take them. It did not matter. Fulham had enough for their their first league win since October, setting up a far more comfortable Christmas than some others will enjoy.

Match facts

Fulham: SCHWARZER 5/10, RIETHER 7, HUGHES 6, HANGELAND 6, RIISE 6, DUFF 6, SIDWELL 7, BAIRD 6, KACANIKLIC 5, BERBATOV 7, RODALLEGA 7

Newcastle: KRUL 6, SANTON 5, COLOCCINI 6, WILLIAMSON 4, SIMPSON 5, GUTIERREZ 5, ANITA 5, TIOTE 3, BEN ARFA 6, BA 5, CISSE 4

Goals. Fulham: Sidwell 19, Rodallega 63. Newcastle: Ben Arfa 54

Substitutes: F ulham Dejagah 5 (Kacaniklic, 62), Petric (Rodallega, 86). Newcastle United Shola Ameobi 6 (Ben Arfa, 70), Marveaux (Anita, 86), Bigirimana (Tioté, 86). Booked None. Man of the match Berbatov. Match rating 5/10. Possession: F ulham 49% Newcastle United 51%. Attempts on target: F ulham 7 Newcastle United 13. Referee L Mason (Lancashire). Attendance 25,270

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Getty
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor