Best double seals Newcastle win but Krul plays key role
The Republic of Ireland international was asked to stand in for the injured Shola Ameobi and responded with a second-half double to reward manager Alan Pardew for his faith with the club’s quest to land another frontman ongoing.
However, the Magpies were indebted to former Falkirk keeper Tim Krul for three superb second-half saves from Steve Sidwell, Chris Baird and Danny Murphy before he was beaten for the first time in the new Barclays Premier League campaign by Clint Dempsey’s 88th-minute header.
Pardew’s side struggled to create anything of note until the game exploded into life with the half-time whistle fast-approaching.
Winger Jonas Gutierrez forced Mark Schwarzer into his first save of the half with a 44th-minute header, and that was the cue for the home side to push.
Former Magpie Aaron Hughes got in a vital block to deny Best after he had turned smartly inside the box, and Schwarzer had to tip a curling Yohan Cabaye effort over his crossbar.
From the resulting corner, the ball dropped to Ryan Taylor, and his shot from 20 yards flew inches past the far post with the Fulham keeper stranded.
Newcastle returned with their momentum intact and forced their way in front within three minutes of the restart.
Schwarzer palmed Cabaye’s shot onto the crossbar after it had bounced nastily in front of him, and Best when in the right place at the right time to tap home.
Fulham searched desperately for a way back into the game.
However, their hopes were dashed in 66 minutes, when substitute Demba Ba controlled Gabriel Obertan’s pass and cross for Best to turn smartly inside the area and fire past Schwarzer.
Krul pulled off fine saves to deny first Baird and then Murphy as the Magpies fought stubbornly to protect their clean sheet.
But they found themselves under pressure once again as they conceded a series of late free-kicks, and their defences were finally pierced from one of them with two minutes remaining when Dempsey headed him from Murphy’s cross.
Schwarzer tipped an injury-time piledriver from Ba onto the woodwork, but there was no way back for his side.