Newcastle moved back up to third place after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Fulham at St James’ Park.
Fulham started the game strongly, defending well and playing out from the back, often looking quite threatening when they attacked, but after the 15 minute mark, Newcastle found their feet and the impetus changed.
There was a horrible sight around twenty minutes as Bruno Guimaraes went down in a heap holding his ankle. A replay showed that he rolled his ankle going in for a challenge. After a bit of treatment, he was able to continue, later taking advantage of a break in play to get some heavy strapping applied to it, however, it was obvious that things weren’t right and he exited the pitch at half-time in tears. Absolutely amazing that he fought on for another 20-odd minutes in pain, but seeing him in tears when he knew his game was over just shows how much playing for this club means to him.
Newcastle found it hard to break Fulham down and it was starting to look like one of those days. At the end of the first half, the Magpies were awarded a free-kick very much in Trippier territory, but for some inexplicable reason the referee moved the ball back ten yards instead of the wall, which put the kick out of reasonable range and Trippier’s effort deflected off the wall and out for a corner.
Allan Saint-Maximin replaced Bruno Guimaraes at half-time and seemed determined to prove his worth. He took the game to the rock-solid Fulham defence, but the London club stood firm.
All the pressure was from Newcastle with Fulham only allowed brief counter-attacks. On one of those counterattacks, VAR got its work-out for the day, eventually awarding Fulham a penalty after Trippier was adjudged to have fouled in the box. It seemed to me that the Fulham lad bought the foul, and upon closer inspection it seemed like Trippier was fouled first, but VAR and the on-field referee after checking the footage adjudged it to be a penalty.
The madness wasn’t done there, though. Aleksandar Mitrovic stepped up and put the penalty away scoring his first goal against Newcastle since he left – only for it to be ruled out for a double-touch after Mitrovic slipped and kicked the ball with his right foot onto his left sending Nick Pope the wrong way. The goal was ruled out and a free-kick was awarded to Newcastle.
Everything seemed to be going our way, every decision, every bit of luck, but it was looking like we just weren’t going to score no matter what we did. Then on 89 minutes, after some nice build-up play, Sean Longstaff looped a superb cross to the far post where Callum Wilson (who’d had many opportunities to score throughout the game) managed to out-muscle Diop and flick a cross beyond Bernd Leno for substitute Alexander Isak to nod home from a yard out and seal the victory.
Another clean sheet and a sign that Wilson and Isak can work together. The party continues!
Man of the match – Joelinton – Maybe shouldn’t have played, but I’m glad he did. His workrate is immense and we are a much better side with him in it.
The Vital Football Podcast Was Live During The First Half Of The Match – We Talked About Gareth Bale, Roberto Martinez And Shock FA Cup Exits. And Created Our Premier League Select XI