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 Saturday, 21 December, 2002, 17:08 GMT
Newcastle make Fulham suffer
Craig Bellamy gave Newcastle an unassailable lead
Newcastle 2-0 Fulham

Goals from Nolberto Solano and Craig Bellamy lifted Newcastle to fourth in the table and left the Cottagers languishing dangerously close to the relegation zone.

The Magpies have now won their last seven home games, while Fulham have not won away from home in six Premiership outings.

Peruvian international Solano opened the scoring after only eight minutes, seizing on a mis-hit clearance by Fulham keeper Edwin van der Sar and lobbing in from 25 yards.

And Bellamy sealed the win midway through the second half, Kieron Dyer catching Sean Davis in possession and feeding the Welshman to score.

Key incidents
8 min: Solano lobs Van der Saar for opening goal
50 mins: Shearer misses penalty
64 mins: Wome is sent off for challenge on Griffin
69 mins: Bellamy scores Newcastle's second

Newcastle's front-line looked sharp all afternoon, and both Bellamy and Alan Shearer had chances to increase the lead in the first half.

First Shearer headed into the side netting from a Bellamy cross, while Bellamy scuffed a shot after a Shearer flick-on.

In contrast, Van der Sar looked out of sorts in the opening 45 minutes, consistently finding touch with his clearances to the frustration of the Fulham midfield.

I thought Dyer gave a colossal performance - he and Gary Speed were massive, immense.

Sir Bobby Robson

Steed Malbranque was left to plough a lonely furrow for Fulham as they went in search of their first top-flight win at St James' Park since 1951 - a result that never looked likely.

Shearer missed a penalty just after a break, blasting over after Davis was adjudged to have brought Kieron Dyer down inside the box.

And if the penalty decision was harsh, Van der Sar was lucky not to be sent off two minutes later when he fouled Shearer 10 yards outside the penalty box.

Pierre Wome did become the fifth Fulham player to be sent off this season after 64 minutes for a high tackle on Andy Griffin.

Alan Shearer missed a penalty

Wome and fellow defenders Martin Djetou and Bjarne Goldbaek looked out of their depth from the start, and Wome's crude challenge summed up a miserable afternoon for the Fulham back four.

With Wome's dismissal went any hopes of a Fulham comeback, and Bellamy rammed home the advantage with his clinical finish on 70 minutes.

Ragged and disjointed is the best way to describe the performance of Jean Tigana's side, not surprising given the injury woes that have befallen Fulham this season.

Defender Steve Finnan was a late withdrawal with flu, while the Cottagers were also without Luis Boa Morte, Lee Clarke, Facundo Sava, Louis Saha, Lee Clarke and Junichi Inamoto.

I said the hard time for us would be in November and December - so many games and we have no one to play.

Jean Tigana

To make matters worse, Fulham also have the worst disciplinary record in the top-flight.

In contrast, Newcastle were impressive, with Dyer and Gary Speed head and shoulders above the Fulham midfield.

Newcastle play Bolton at the Reebok Stadium on Boxing Day, followed by home fixtures against Spurs and Liverpool and they will be confident of getting results in all three games.

Fulham, meanwhile, will spend their Christmas scrapping with fellow relegation candidates after yet another dismal display.

Newcastle: Given, Griffin, Caldwell, O'Brien, Hughes, Solano (Ameobi 83), Dyer (Jenas 81), Speed (Acuna 87), Robert, Bellamy, Shearer.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Dabizas.

Fulham: Van der Sar (Taylor 62), Brevett, Melville, Goma, Wome, Goldbaek, Davis, Djetou, Legwinski, Marlet, Malbranque (Willock 76).
Subs Not Used: Collins, Knight, Stolcers.

Sent Off: Wome (66).
Booked: Brevett, Van der Sar.

Attendance: 51,576

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

 BBC Sport's Ian Dennis
"Fulham never tested Shay Given"
 Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson
"We don't like boo-boys here"
 Newcastle's Gary Speed
"We've got ourselves into a good position"
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