Marco Silva may have suffered worse days as manager but probably not many. Nathaniel Chalobah’s sending off eight minutes into his first Premier League start for more than two years allowed Newcastle to secure only their second victory of the season as Fulham’s early momentum came to a shuddering halt.
Goals from Callum Wilson, Sean Longstaff and two either side of half-time from Miguel Almirón, including an outstanding volley, ensured that Eddie Howe’s side moved above their opponents in the top half of the table and gave their traveling supporters an afternoon to remember. For Silva – who also saw top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic limp off before half-time with a suspected ankle injury – it was an unwanted reminder that his side remain extremely vulnerable in defense despite playing the majority of the match with 10 men after Chalobah was shown the earliest red card of the Premier League season so far.
Newcastle’s failure to record a victory since Wilson’s goal helped see off Nottingham Forest back at the start of August led to a recall for the England striker in place of record signing Alexander Isak, who picked up an injury on international duty. Howe also handed starts to Sven Botman, Jacob Murphy and Longstaff, while Silva made four changes from their win over Forest that included a debut for Paris Saint-Germain’s Layvin Kurzawa at left-back.
Yet if Fulham came into the game fancying their chances of extending their excellent start following promotion last season, those plans were ruined when Chalobah flew recklessly into a tackle on Longstaff. Joe Willock had already needed treatment after former Newcastle defender Kevin Mbabu upended him inside the opening two minutes but referee Darren England was given no choice but to send off Chalobah after intervention from the VAR. It was not long before Newcastle were ahead. Mbabu was caught out by Willock at the back post following Kieran Trippier’s excellent cross and Wilson made no mistake this time. The England forward had somehow managed to hit the post from close range just before Chalobah’s red card after Bernd Leno saved Longstaff’s powerful drive.
With Bruno Guimarães pulling the strings in midfield, Newcastle poured forward at will and almost doubled their lead when Wilson curled just wide. It was only a matter of time before they scored again as Fulham struggled to contain the visitors but there was nothing ordinary about Almirón’s superb dipping strike following another inch-perfect pass from Guimarães. If Silva thought things could not get much worse then he was sadly mistaken. Mitrovic limped off with a suspected ankle injury just before Longstaff tapped home at the far post to make it 3-0 following Leno’s excellent save to deny Botman. Silva responded by taking off the injured Kurzawa and Mbabu just before half-time, with both full-backs having played their part in Fulham’s downfall.
It was not exactly how owner, Shahid Khan, would have wanted his team to perform as spectators filled out one of the upper blocks of the stunning new Riverside Stand for the first time. Fulham’s switch to a back five for the second half with Daniel James and Bobby Decordova-Reid as wingbacks was an attempt at damage limitation, although Willock came close to making it 4-0 just after the break.
Another brilliant run and cross from the former Arsenal midfielder allowed Almirón to do just that before the hour mark, when Guimarães was withdrawn with the points in the bag. Almirón almost rounded it all off with a hat-trick, only to be denied by the assistant’s flag on an afternoon where pretty much everything had gone Newcastle’s way. Decordova-Reid’s late strike was at least a consolation for Fulham in a defeat Silva will hope they can move on from quickly.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism