|A 90th minute penalty scored by Joey Barton meant the Whites agonisingly fell to defeat against Newcastle at Craven Cottage.|
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
The visitors started the game strongly, putting the Whites’ back line under a sustained amount of pressure with series of corners, crosses and deep throws. For the large part Fulham’s defenders acquitted themselves well in winning the first balls, however they were often unable to maintain possession which made for a nervy opening.
Fulham’s first chance of the first half came in the 11 minute when, at the second time of asking, Clint Dempsey played the ball to Simon Davies who had advanced into space. The Welsh international attempted an audacious chip from the edge of the area, which Shay Given was equal to courtesy of an acrobatic save. Given was the centre of a controversial incident a few moments later when his momentum looked to have taken him out of the area whilst the ball was in his arms.
The visitors’ midfield were driving the game forward for Sam Allardyce’s side and from one such thrusting attack Joey Barton saw his goal bound header saved on the line by Niemi.
With a maturity beyond his years, Elliot Omozusi was certainly not allowing himself to be overawed by the occasion, demonstrating a tenacious attitude down the right flank. The visitors were looking to build their attacks down Fulham’s right wing but Omozusi was giving his opposite number little time on the ball.
As the match developed the play settled down into a more balanced affair. Fulham’s main threat was coming down the left flank where Hameur Bouazza, whilst not getting to the by-line, was finding space to deliver telling crosses. Newcastle were looking to isolate Carlos Bocanegra and use Obafemi Martins’ pace against the American national team captain.
The Whites few out of the traps in the second half, backed by an enthusiastic Cottage crowd. Bouazza got things moving for Fulham with a penetrating run through the inside left channel before delivering a teasing low ball into the danger area.
Whereas United were looking the more established side in midfield in the first half, Fulham were dictating the pace of the match after the break – as was evident by the space between Newcastle’s midfield and attacking line. Sam Allardyce tried to get his side back into contention by replacing Geremi with Emre soon after.
A delightful reverse pass from Simon Davies played Hameur Bouazza into space down the left wing as Fulham upped their work rate in search of the opening goal. With Healy waiting in the middle, Bouazza was unable to get his delivery beyond the first man.
Nicky Butt somehow contrived place the ball striaght at Antti Niemi with a header from only a matter of yards out. Soon after, Elliot Omozusi lit up the encounter with fine piece of play, majestically bringing the ball out from the back whilst gliding past three players in the process.
A spell of concerted pressure from Fulham had Newcastle pegged back deep in their own half – culminating in Clint Dempsey heading over from Simon Davies corner.
74 mins - Fulham substitution: Davis OFF Kuqi ON
The introduction of Shefki Kuqi saw Clint Dempsey move out to the right wing as Simon Davies shifted into the middle of the park to partner Danny Murphy in the centre of midfield. The change gave the Whites a direct outlet to the front line.
Hameur Bouazza robbed Beye of possession deep in Newcastle territory as Fulham looked to snatch the winner. The Algerian international played a cross to the back post where Cacapa was on hand to nick the ball away from the head of Kuqi.
90 mins - GOAL NEWCASTLE – Joey Barton
The visitors scored the winning goal of the match from the spot when Elliot Omozusi was adjudged to have brought down Alan Smith in the box. Joey Barton stepped up and placed the ball past Antti Niemi for a cruel finish to the match.
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Date: Saturday 15 December 2007
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Referee: Howard Webb
Line-up: Niemi; Omozusi, Konchesky; Murphy; Stefanovic, Hughes; Davies, Steven Davis; Dempsey, Healy; Bouazza
Unused substitutes: Warner, Bocanegra, Baird, Seol Ki-Hyeon, Smertin
Line-up: Given; Beye, N'Zogbia; Butt; Caçapa, Ramage; Geremi (Emre 59'), Barton; Smith, Martins (Viduka 77'); Milner
Unused substitutes: Harper, José Enrique, Edgar
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