Premier League - Rodallega header sinks Newcastle

Premier League, Craven Cottage - Fulham 2 (Sidwell 19, Rodallega 63) Newcastle United 1 (Hatem Ben Arfa 54)

Hugo Rodallega headed Fulham to their first win in eight Premier League games courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United at Craven Cottage.

In a frantic match that could have gone either way, Fulham collected their first win in the league since they overcame Aston Villa in October as a deflected Steve Sidwell shot (19) and Rodallega's 63rd minute header was enough to earn Martin Jol's side three heart-warming points from a freezing night.

Hatem Ben Arfa had equalised for the visiting side with a farcical goal on 54 minutes as the ball somehow spun up and over Mark Schwarzer, who seemed to be wrong-footed in the middle of his goal-line.

Fulham are three points ahead of Newcastle in 13th place in the table with 20 from 16 league games. Newcastle are one of three Premier League clubs who remain without an away win this season – the others are QPR and Reading.

Fulham have now won six of their last seven Premier League home matches against Newcastle, including each of the last four.

Fulham ended over five hours of football without a goal when Sidwell saw the ball come off Mike Williamson and fly over Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul, who was left with no chance.

The fabulous Dimitar Berbatov should have added the second goal seconds later when he skipped away from Fabricio Coloccini, but he ended up knocking the shot straight at Krul before the Dutch goalkeeper scrambled away a Berbatov volley after strong play by Sascha Riether on the run to deliver a fine cross.

Coloccini saw a header cleared off the line by Riether on 31 minutes as the visiting side showed their menace for the first time in the match.

The ball then broke to Demba Ba in the home area minutes before half-time after Schwarzer failed to deal with a corner, but Riether was again well positioned to scramble the ball off the line.

Ben Arfa brought the visiting level when he saw a shot clip the frame of John Arne Riise before the ball somehow dropped over the head of Schwarzer, who was left sporting a hangdog look in his own net.

Rodallega popped up to head into the visiting net from six yards out after a superb delivery by Damien Duff from a free-kick.

Coloccini hit the post with a shot from inside the home area on 71 minutes as the visiting side tried to restore parity with Fulham substitute Mladen Petric doing likewise at the other end.

But there was to be no late equaliser for Newcastle as their winless run on the road continues.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Dimitar Berbatov - Fulham: In a class of his own. Already looks like the bargain signing of the season for £5 million.

PLAYER RATINGS

Fulham: Schwarzer 5, Riether 7, Hughes 6, Hangeland 6, Riise 6, Duff 7, Baird 6, Sidwell 7, Kacaniklic 6, Rodallega 8, Berbatov 9. Subs: Petric 7, Dejagah 6.

Newcastle United: Krul 6, Simpson 6, Coloccini 6, Williamson 6, Santon 6, Gutierrez 6, Tiote 5, Anita 5, Ben Arfa 5, Cisse 5, Ba 5. Sbs: Bigirimana 6, Marveaux 6, Shola Ameobi 6.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND PLAYER STATS