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Fulham’s first away win of the season was one to remember. Mark Crossley kept goal magnificently to repel wave after wave of Newcastle attacks and Chris Coleman’s side produced a classic display of counter-attacking football to record what was a hugely flattering 4-1 win at St. James’ Park.

Crossley, who has displaced Edwin van der Sar after producing heroics in the League Cup last month, made a string of fine saves to prevent Newcastle from going in front after they dominated the opening stages and Collins John stunned the home crowd by putting the visitors ahead in a rare Fulham foray forward. Steed Malbranque confidently finished off another counter attack before converting a penalty to make it 3-0 and Luis Boa Morte sparked an exodus of thousands with his impudent chip. Craig Bellamy headed a late consolation, but everyone was shaking their heads after Coleman’s side pulled off the ultimate smash and grab raid.
Newcastle dominated a first half that was played at a serious pace but couldn’t find a way past an inspired Crossley in the Fulham goal. The veteran offered a glimpse of what was to come when he superbly saved from Lee Bowyer in the third minute before recovering to deny Bellamy from the rebound. He made an unorthodox stop with his boot to prevent Bowyer from scoring on thirteen minutes and then showed his agility to prevent Robbie Elliott from heading home Olivier Bernard’s cross at the near post.

The Geordies looked rampant, but Fulham took the lead on the counter attack with their first real attack just before the half hour. The home fans were already protesting at the lack of a free-kick after Zat Knight and Alan Shearer collided and their anger only intensified as Papa Bouba Diop and Boa Morte combined quickly to set John away and the Dutch teenager finished confidently after running through on Steve Harper.

Howard Webb hardly endeared himself to the home fans by turning down Newcastle’s shouts for a penalty when Shearer tumbled under Diop’s challenge – a decision that saw Graeme Souness sent to the stands for his own furious protests. Crossley denied Kluivert and Bellamy in quick succession, the later unwittingly with his face, and Fulham somehow held the advantage at half time.

There was more of the same in the second half. Knight instinctively blocked a Shearer shot with his leg and Crossley did brilliantly to turn aside Laurent Robert’s goalbound free-kick having been unsighted by the wall. The former Nottingham Forest goalkeeper then clawed away Kluivert’s low drive and Fulham made the most of their good fortune to double their lead twenty minutes into the second half.

With Newcastle sending numbers forward, Cole seized on a mistake from Andy O’Brien, slipping in Steed Malbranque, whose finish from the edge of the box was fantastic. The French midfielder rolled home a penalty after Elliott had tripped Tomasz Radzinski and Newcastle’s shellshock was complete when he put Boa Morte in the clear and the rapid winger chipped a stranded Harper.

Bellamy did eventually beat Crossley with a header almost immediately afterwards but their continued attacking brought no further rewards as the goalkeeper repelled a Kluivert shot and another Bellamy effort at full stretch to complete one of the most surreal days of his career.

NEWCASTLE UNITED (4-4-2): Harper; Hughes (Robert 57), Elliott, O’Brien, Bernard (Ameobi 68); Bellamy, Butt, Bowyer, Jenas; Shearer, Kluivert. Subs (not used): Caig, Bramble, Johnsen.

BOOKED: O’Brien.

GOAL: Bellamy (77).

FULHAM (4-3-3): Crossley; Volz, Bocaengra, Knight, Rehman; Diop, Pembridge, Malbranque; John (Radzinski 57), Boa Morte, Cole. Subs (not used): van der Sar, Rosenior, Legwinski, McBride.

BOOKED: Volz.

GOALS: John (28), Malbranque (65, pen 71), Boa Morte (76).

REFEREE: Howard Webb (South Yorkshire).

ATTENDANCE:
51,118