Yesterday was one of hose games in which a win would have done at any cost.
That we had to wait until stoppage time for the winner to come though has probably shaved a few weeks off my life.
It was Papiss Cisse who once again popped up with a late winner in much the same way as he did against Stoke and Anzhi few weeks back.
The number nine kept a cool head as time was running out and gave United the lead with a well-worked goal to seal three points for the Magpies, but for so long it looked as though a goal just wouldn’t be forthcoming.
United huffed and puffed for most of the match but were unable to break down a stubborn Fulham backline who marshalled their defence well. Aided by the crossbar and the post, Fulham had probably thought they’d done enough to take a share of the points back to Craven Cottage but Cisse’s late show put an end to that and sparked joyous scenes on Tyneside.
As strange as it sounds United had the bulk of the game in the first-half but rarely threatened the Fulham goal aside from a trio of efforts from Papiss Cisse, none of which really troubled the Fulham goalkeeper. Fulham weren’t without threat either though and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa had to be on hand to block an attempt from Bryan Ruiz before Tim Krul blocked from Stanislav Manolev on the resulting corner.
Neither side could break the deadlock however and the scores remained level at half-time, with the the United treatment room gaining another recruit in the shape of Davide Santon who looks to have pulled his hamstring.
Half-time: Newcastle 0-0 Fulham
The home side continued to press in the opening exchanges of the second period but it wasn’t until the 53rd minute that they managed to muster an effort at goal. Vurnon Anita saw his 25-yard shot deflected onto the crossbar leaving a stranded Mark Schwarzer breathing a considerable sigh of relief.
On the hour mark it was the woodwork who was to be Fulham’s saviour once more as Yoan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse struck the left upright in quick succession following a corner from Sylvain Marveaux. TV replays showed that Sascha Riether has perhaps used his arm to deflect Gouffran’s effort onto the post but the appeals from United were muted and referee Kevin Friend probably wouldn’t have given anything had the complaints been more vocal anyway.
Shola Ameobi and Adam Campbell were introduced as time started running out, and the former could have given United the lead on 77 minutes had he managed to direct his header on target and not wide of the Fulham goal. Papiss Cisse was next try with a headed attempt and although he managed to direct his header on target Mark Schwarzer managed to dive down low and tip the effort round the post at the expense of a corner.
The game looked to be heading for 0-0 but deep into stoppage time Cisse managed to trap Cabaye’s mishit shot at goal before turning and volleying on the slide sending the ball past Schwarzer and into the back of the Gallowgate net.
The celebrations were outstanding. Papiss Cisse dived into the Gallowgate crowd through sheer elation and earned a booking for his troubles which I really don’t think he cared about, while Alan Pardew took part in some close up fan interaction of his own by jumping into the fans behind the dugout showing just how important this win was for us.
Full-time: Newcastle 1-0 Fulham
There were some fantastic performances out on the pitch that are worthy of a mention. I thought Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was outstanding next to Steven Taylor who himself played pretty well. Jonas Gutierrez was excellent also, as was Sylvain Marveaux who tried to make things work for us. I also thought Papiss Cisse had a good all-round game. He could and perhaps should have scored earlier than he did, but he got into the positions he needed to be in, chased things down and held the ball up when he could despite being shackled by Brede Hangeland.
That win sends us up into 13th place in the table and we’re five points clear of the relegation zone. It’s been called a week of destiny for United with three important home games within the space of a week and we passed the first test, just. Benfica are up next and, although unlikely to progress, we’re not out of that one just yet and if we can beat the Mackems next week we’ll go eight points ahead of them with only five games remaining. In fact if Wigan lose their game in hand away at Manchester City and lose the fixture immediately after that away at West Ham, we’ll be eight points ahead of them with five remaining also.
I’ll not get too far ahead of myself though and instead I’ll just enjoy this win, although I would prefer it if we could maybe get games wrapped up before the final few seconds as it;s just altogether better for our collective health!
Howay the lads!
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Davide Santon; Sylvain Marveaux, Moussa Sissoko, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez; Yoan Gouffran, Papiss Cisse
Subs: Rob Elliot, Mike Williamson, Vurnon Anita, Gael Bigirimana, Gabriel Obertan, Adam Campbell, Shola Ameobi
Fulham: Mark Schwarzer; Sascha Riether, Philippe Senderos, Brede Hangeland, John Arne Riise; Stanislav Manolev, Eyong Enoh, Giorgios Karagounis, Damien Duff; Bryan Ruiz; Dimitar Berbatov
Subs: Neil Etheridge, Aaron Hughes, Kieran Richardson, Emmanuel Frimpong, Urby Emanuelson, Kerim Frei, Hugo Rodallega