Fulham forged a fine comeback to stun Newcastle with two late goals from Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra but their win at St. James’ Park was marred by a serious injury to in-form midfielder Jimmy Bullard.
Newcastle looked on course to win after taking the lead through a fine Scott Parker header ten minutes after the break, but Chris Coleman’s side – who struggled for away wins last season – stole all three points in the last five minutes when their American duo turned the game on its head. The loss of their talismanic midfielder, who was stretched off in tears with his right leg in a splint after being injured by Parker, takes some of the gloss of Fulham’s spirited comeback.
In a quiet first half, Glenn Roeder’s side dominated possession but struggled to create chances. Damien Duff looked lively down the left flank but the Magpies were mainly restricted to long-range efforts from Obafemi Martins. Stephen Carr blasted their clearest opener over the bar from the right at the end of the first half. Fulham offered little going forward themselves with two McBride headers the closest they came to making an impression.
Roeder sent his side out after the interval with clear instructions to take the attack to Fulham and Newcastle reaped the reward of Parker’s desire to make an impact in the box ten minutes after the break. The England midfielder made a late run into the box, darting away from Liam Rosenior, and guiding an excellent header past Antti Niemi from Emre’s inviting cross.
Fulham didn’t seriously test Shay Given until the final frenetic five minutes, hampered by Bullard’s enforced departure and a defensive reorganised required when Zat Knight also limped off injured. McBride powered home an unlikely equaliser when he produced a brilliant volley from Wayne Routledge’s right-wing delivery and the American striker demonstrated his aerial prowess again a minute from time – powering a header against the Newcastle crossbar. Compatriot Bocanegra guided home the rebound from six yards out to complete a scarcely believable comeback.
Fulham finally strung a series of passes together and McBride was on hand to volley in Routledge’s cross.
And with a minute left Bocanegra forced the ball over the line after McBride hit the bar with a header after a Fulham corner.
NEWCASTLE UNITED (4-4-2): Given; Carr, Bramble, Moore, Ramage; Duff, Parker (Butt 80), Emre, N’Zogbia; Ameobi, Martins (Rossi 72). Subs (not used): Harper, Solano, Sibierski.
GOALS: Parker (54).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi, Rosenior, Quedrue, Knight (Bocanegra 78), Pearce; Diop (Radzinski 83), Brown, Bullard (Routledge 34), Boa Morte; John, McBride. Subs (not used): Lastuvka, Helguson.
GOALS: McBride (82), Bocanegra (89).
REFEREE: Chris Foy (Merseyside).