Richard Masters checks on Newcastle United as Alexander Isak capitalises on Aleksandar Mitrovic slip
Newcastle United moved to within a point of second-placed Manchester City – with a little help from Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Eddie Howe’s side beat Fulham 1-0 at St James’s Park this afternoon thanks to a goal from Alexander Isak, making his first Premier League appearance since September.
Isak netted in the 89th minute to claim all three points, but the outcome could have been different had it not been for a bizarre slip from Mitrovic. A penalty from Mitrovic was ruled out as the former United striker had miskicked – and touched the ball twice.
Newcastle, unbeaten in 14 league games, have now kept five successive top-flight clean sheets for the first time in the club’s history.
But the three points United took from the game, which was watched by Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, came at a cost, as midfielder Bruno Guimaraes suffered a first-half ankle injury.
Guimaraes attempted to play on after treatment, but he left the pitch in tears at the break amid fears that he’s facing a spell on the sidelines ahead of the club’s two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final against Southampton.
Masters, meanwhile, was blamed by some fans for delays in approving the takeover of United.
A huge banner of Howe had been unveiled at the Leazes end of the stadium before kick-off time with the recent quote “we’re not here to be popular, we’re here to compete”.
Newcastle, again, competed, but they weren’t at their best.
Howe fielded Joelinton, charged with drink driving this week following his arrest in the early hours of Thursday, in an unchanged side, while striker Mitrovic returned from suspension for Fulham, who beat rivals Chelsea on Thursday night.
Guimaraes, with his hair again dyed blond, found Sean Longstaff in the box with a superb fifth-minute pass, but the midfielder’s shot was deflected over by Issa Diop.
Fulham, however, saw a lot of the ball, and Willian delivered several dangerous balls into the home box.
A Callum Wilson header was easily gathered by Bernd Leno later in largely-flat half.
Joe Willock broke down the left after the half-hour mark and pulled the ball back for Wilson, but the striker couldn’t connect with the ball. Wilson also had a chance saved in added time.
Guimaraes – who had had his ankle strapped – left the pitch in tears at the break. The 25-year-old was consoled by Brazilian countryman Joelinton as he headed for the tunnel.
Howe replaced him with Allan Saint-Maximin, who hasn’t started a Premier League game since late August.
Fabian Schar struck the post with a free-kick with 61 minutes gone before a moment of controversy. Referee Robert Jones pointed to the spot after a pitchside VAR check showed that Kieran Trippier had brought down Bobby Decordova-Reid in the box.
Mitrovic had the ball in the net from the penalty spot, but his strike was ruled out as he’d slipped and miskicked – and struck the ball twice.
Howe sent on Isak, and the striker headed home after Wilson knocked a deep cross from Kieran Trippier into his path to take his league tally to three goals from four games.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Pope, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Guimaraes (Saint-Maximin, 46), Longstaff, Willock (Isak 71), Almiron ( Murphy, 85), Joelinton, Wilson (Wood, 90). Subs not used: Dubravka, Lascelles, Ritchie, Lewis, Manquillo.