Newcastle 2-1 Fulham

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Newcastle striker Leon Best
Best tucks in for Newcastle on 48 minutes, before striking again on 66 minutes

Leon Best scored twice to earn Newcastle an ultimately edgy win over a tired looking Fulham side.

Following a tame first half, Best scored on his first Premier League start of the season after Mark Schwarzer saved Yohan Cabaye's shot.

The striker then doubled the lead when he fired in from Demba Ba's cross.

Clint Dempsey gave Fulham some hope when he headed in Danny Murphy's free-kick but after being relatively comfortable Newcastle hung on.

Pardew pleased with Newcastle start

The hosts will look back on two fine saves by keeper Tim Krul, who stopped headers from Steve Sidwell and Murphy, but Martin Jol's side only really threatened towards the end of the game.

Ba almost crowned his substitute's appearance with a goal when he hit the bar in injury time, but the victory was deserved for Alan Pardew's side as they continued their unbeaten start to the season.

The two sides had only found the net once between them in the Premier League before this encounter and for much of the first half there was a clear lack of cutting edge.

It took until the 44th minute before the first real opening, but Jonas Gutierrez's header was well saved by Schwarzer, and then Best, Cabaye and Ryan Taylor all went close.

Best's effort was superbly blocked but the former Coventry striker was quick to react to Cabaye's saved shot just after the break to give the hosts the lead.

The goal was relatively simple as Cabaye collected a throw-in midway inside the Fulham half, and when Schwarzer could only nudge his strike onto the bar, Best was ready to tuck in the rebound for his first goal of the season.

That brought an almost immediate response from Fulham, who were encouraged to push further forward by boss Jol, with Sidwell's header tipped onto the bar from Damien Duff's cross.

Duff then impressed with a run and shot which hit the side netting, but Pardew introduced Ba to replace Peter Lovenkrands and the Senegalese striker soon linked with Best to craft an expertly taken second.

Gabriel Obertan, who was one of four players brought back into the side after the narrow Carling Cup win against Scunthorpe, swept the ball to the right and from Ba's cross Best took one touch and arrowed the ball into the corner of the net.

Following a midweek Europa League trip to Ukraine, it left a long way back for Fulham and although Chris Baird smacked a fine long-range shot, Krul was proving an immovable force.

Jol regrets wasted chances

That was further underlined when the Dutch keeper saved from Murphy's close-range header.

But he could do little when Murphy then provided Fulham a lifeline as his free-kick found Dempsey 12 yards out, to register the Cottagers' first Premier League goal of the season.

Without injured striker Bobby Zamora, it was obvious where Fulham were lacking.

Newcastle face a trip to Queens Park Rangers next week - where they could come up against former midfielder Joey Barton - and on this evidence Pardew is proving adept at galvanising a team growing used to losing key players.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew: "Leon Best scored two again and, fair play to him, every time we play him he seems to score, so he's a good omen for me. We're delighted, three wins in a week is very hard to get in professional football, whatever level of the game you're at."

Fulham boss Martin Jol: "We need to be more aware of the fact that we are a good team but we need to score goals, and we had a couple of the sitters in the second half.

"We have to work on it and try to get bodies in. Fulham have never had a big squad. Nine left the club but four came in. We are working 100% to get some players."

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