Club-record signing Alexander Isak came off the bench to earn Newcastle United a last-gasp 1-0 win over Fulham in the Premier League on Sunday, with the hosts grateful for an extraordinary penalty slip from visiting forward Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Newcastle, without a goal in their previous two league matches, again struggled to break down their opponents in the first half at St. James’ Park, with Callum Wilson twice denied by Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
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Those missed chances looked like they would prove to be costly after Fulham won a penalty midway through the second half for a foul on Bobby Decordova-Reid, following a VAR review.
However, as former Newcastle striker Mitrovic slipped as he struck the spot kick and hit the ball against his standing foot before finding the net, the goal was ruled out because he had touched the ball twice.
It looked like Newcastle would have to settle for a third successive Premier League goalless draw, before Isak arrived right on cue to head home the 89th-minute winner, sparking wild scenes of celebration in the north east.
The victory ensured Newcastle climbed back above Manchester United into third in the standings on goal difference, one point behind champions Manchester City in second. Fulham stay sixth.
Newcastle have 38 points from 19 games — their most at the half-way mark of a season in the competition since 2001-02 (39), when they finished fourth.
« The goal was a special moment, » coach Eddie Howe told Sky Sports. « So pleased for Alex. You want to hit the ground running at a new club and he did before the injury. He had to wait and watch the team do well in his absence. He’s worked hard. For these moments the work was worth it . »
Four of Fulham’s seven league defeats this season have come to goals conceded in the final five minutes of games, including each of their last three defeats in the league. This is twice as many winning goals conceded in the final five minutes as any other side in the 2022-23 competition.
« So many things to say about the ref’s performance, » Fulham coach Marco Silva told Sky Sports. « But first I will say that I am really proud of the players and my team. We had ambition, quality, desire and showed why we are doing so well this season. »