Fulham flounder as Newcastle end with a bang
Newcastle finished their season with a flurry of goals as Scott Parker’s first game as permanent Fulham manager ended in a 4-0 rout at Craven Cottage.
Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez struck successive goals in two minutes early in the first half to give Rafael Benitez’s men a lead they never looked like surrendering.
And Fabian Schar and Salomon Rondon were on target after the interval to seal a comprehensive win, but the score failed to reflect Fulham’s lengthy spells of dominance that lacked any meaningful reward.
Parker was confirmed this week as the Cottagers’ boss for their immediate return to the Sky Bet Championship, but any hope of finishing the season on a high fell flat.
They were relegated on April 2 after being routed by Watford and this defeat highlighted a lack of firepower in the box as reams of possession was wasted.
The result secured Newcastle a 13th-place finish, their success in south west London and Bournemouth’s defeat at Crystal Palace lifting them up from 14th where they had started the day.
Fulham made a lively start and engineered a sweeping move full of back heels and flicks that ended when Floyd Ayite just failed to meet the final cross, but the early promise was deceptive as by the 11th minute they had slipped two goals behind.
Poor defending had a hand in both goals, the first a superb finish by Shelvey after he received Matt Ritchie’s corner in acres of space outside the box, picked his spot and hammered the ball home.
And they were sliced open with ease two minutes later, an error compounded when keeper Sergio Rico could only palm Christian Atsu’s into the path of Perez, who was on target with the tap-in.
Once Newcastle had finished helping themselves to goals, Fulham resumed on the front foot, generally playing with greater freedom and even going close through an Ayite attempt that was just high.
Tom Cairney showed lovely control and linked well with Ryan Sessengnon as Newcastle’s area came under repeated threat, but they were unable to create a clear chance.
The siege was temporarily lifted by a sharp counter-attack that ended when Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa made a crucial sliding tackle around the penalty spot.
Fulham continued to drive forward as the second half got under way, but once again they conceded against the run of play.
A corner proved to be their undoing for a second time when the ball was whipped in to Schar whose downwards header easily beat Rico.
Three minutes later and Fulham finally appeared to have gained some reward when Ayite deflected in Anguissa’s shot, but the goal was rightly disallowed for off-side.
As a parting shot for their opponents’ descent into the second tier, Rondon plundered a fourth when he drove into the box, shot at Rico and when the keeper could only block, stabbed home the follow up.