MATCH REPORTS

United Still Looking For First Win

Shearer and Owen

Newcastle Utd 1
Fulham 1

McBride 13
N'Zogbia 78
Parker s/o 82

Final Update: 90mins (3pm kick off)

Ian Willis reports from St. James' Park

CHARLES N'Zogbia's first Premiership goal earned United a point just as it looked as though Fulham would turn out to be party poopers at St. James' Park this afternoon.

The Frenchman, on as a first half replacement for Albert Luque, swerved a free kick from the angle of the box into the top corner to cancel out Brian McBride's 13th minute opener.

But no sooner had N'Zogbia found the net, United were reduced to 10 men when Scott Parker was sent off for picking up a second yellow card for pulling back Collins John.

MICHAEL Owen made his United debut on Saturday as Fulham visited St. James' Park.

As expected, Owen partnered Alan Shearer in attack, though injuries and suspensions forced Graeme Souness to make changes elsewhere.

Steven Taylor moved across to right back to allow Titus Bramble back into the heart of defenmce alongside Jean Alain Boumsong.

Regular right back Stephen Carr pushed up into midfield with Nobby Solano suspended, while Souness took no risks with Lee Bowyer and his place in the centre of midfield went to Amady Faye, with Bowyer on the bench.

Former Fulham star Lee Clark was also among the Magpies substitutes, while long-time Newcastle target Luis Boa Morte skippered the visitors.

Fulham won a corner inside the first minute but United cleared the danger, then on four minutes Shearer almost broke the deadlock when Luque swept a great diagonal ball into his path but Warner got a slight touch to tip the ball away for a corner, which was cleared.

Babayaro then won another corner on five minutes when his cross was deflected off Volz, but when the flag kick was headed away as far as Parker his effort flashed wide.

But on 13 minutes Fulham took the lead. Taylor's back pass was intercepted by Radzinski, and when he picked out Boa Morte the Portugal international rolled the ball into the path of Brian McBride for a simple tap in.

Parker's foul on Malbranque on the edge of the box gave Fulham a free kick two yards outside of the box just to left of centre on 19 minutes, but Claus Jensen's effort hit the wall.

United broke quickly, and Bocanegra chopped down Owen as he tried to race away and the USA international was cautioned.

Another Fulham corner was cleared after 23 minutes as the visitors pressed for a second goal, then after a foul on Carr at the other end Luque curled a free kick from 22 yards straight at Warner.

Carr saw a cross deflected off Niclas Jensen on 29 minutes to give Newcastle a corner, and when Luque swung the ball in Warner missed the catch but the ball didn't drop kindly for Owen at the back post and the chance went begging.

Malbranque was then punished for a tug on the shirt of Luque down by the byeline on the left hand side, but the free kick from the Spaniard came to nothing.

Another free kick from Luque, this time from the right channel, was headed away by Diop as United started to turn the screw in search of an equaliser. 

There was a blow for Newcastle on 33 minutes when Luque went down clutching his hamstring. Before United had time to replace him, Diop fired in a powerful drive that Given had to save with his legs as the ball swerved all over the place.

Before play resumed, Luque was wheeled away on a stretcher and replaced by Charles N'Zogbia.

On 43 minutes Taylor required attention from the physio after colliding with the post as he slid in to clear a Radzinski effort that would have been ruled out by an offside flag had it gone in. The young defender looked to be in some discomfort, but after a couple of minutes treatment he ran off the injury on the line before resuming.

N'Zogbia won a left wing corner in stoppage time, and when the ball was half cleared by Fulham, Parker drilled in a shot that was diverted for a flag kick on the opposite side. Again the kick was cleared, then Owen saw an angled effort drift wide of the far post as a frustrating half ended with Fulham in front.

At the start of the second half, Taylor was replaced by Lee Bowyer. That meant Stephen Carr went back to right back, with Bowyer replacing him in midfield.

Carr saw a long range free kick easily saved by Warner on 47 minutes, then when Fulham broke quickly Given had to spread himself well to keep out an effort from Radzinski and concede a corner.

Diop headed goalwards from Claus Jensen's inswinger but Faye was well positioned to divert the ball away for another corner which this time was cleared.

McBride almost made it 2-0 on 50 minutes when a Jensen cross drifted between Boumsong and Bramble, but Given got down to make the save.

Bramble sliced the ball out of play for a corner on 53 minutes, and when Jensen played the ball to Malbranque just outside the box he was fouled by Parker. The former Chelsea midfielder was booked, but Diop's effort swerved over the top and into the Leazes End.

Faye strode forward from midfield on 57 minutes and tried his luck from 25 yards, but Warner was equal to his effort. The Senegalese international then had another effort blocked by Knight moments later.

N'Zogbia had a low cross hacked away by Fulham after Owen threaded a ball through to him on the inside left side of the penalty area, then a corner from the young Frenchman drifted away as The Magpies tried to find a way back into the game.

Boa Morte's low cross was diverted away for a corner by Bramble just after the hour mark, but Claus Jensen's inswinger was nodded away by Bowyer.

Fulham were inches away from grabbing a second on 63 minutes when McBride got on the end of a long ball from Knight to square for Radzinski, but the ball rolled just behind the striker and across the face of goal before being swept away.

Faye was harshly booked for a trip on Malbranque on 66 minutes, though referee Mr Wiley indicated that the caution was for persistant fouling rather than one challenge.

A deep free kick floated in by Bramble was headed away for a corner by McBride on 69 minutes, but Fulham cleared then defended well again when Bowyer swung the loose ball back in.

On 70 minutes Fulham made a switch, with Collins John replacing Radzinski in attack.

Two minutes later Lee Clark replaced Faye, and was given a good reception from both sets of fans.

A free kick was awarded to United on 75 minutes for a foul on Babayaro when the referee may have been better playing an advantage, but there would have been no complaints had Carr's powerful strike gone in rather than bounce off the underside of the bar and out after Bowyer tapped the ball to him. 

Diop was then adjudged to have handled Owen's shot on 77 minutes to give the home side another free kick right on the edge of the box, but Shearer's effort clipped the wall and went for a throw in.

Owen was fouled again on the right side of the box, this time by Boa Morte, and N'Zogbia stepped up to curl a superb effort across Warner and into the top corner.

 But the celebrations had hardly died down when Parker picked up a second yellow card and therefore a red after tugging back Collins John 22 yards out.

Claus Jensen's free kick rattled the crossbar, and when the ball fell back to him he fired over the bar though Mr Wiley somehow spotted a deflection and gave a corner. The United fans and team were incensed, but thankfully the flag kick came to nothing.

Clark was next in the book despite appearing to win the ball in a challenge with Claus Jensen in the centre circle on 85 minutes.

Four minutes of time were added on at the end, though a free kick from carr which was easily gathered by Warner was the only opportunity for either side as the game ended all-square.

United: Shay Given, Steven Taylor (Lee Bowyer 46), Jean Alain Boumsong, Titus Bramble, Celestine Babayaro, Stephen Carr, Amady Faye (Lee Clark 72), Scott Parker, Albert Luque (Charles N'Zogbia 35), Alan Shearer, Michael Owen Subs (not used): Robbie Elliott, Steve Harper

Fulham: Tony Warner, Moriz Volz, Zat Knight, Carlos Bocanegra, Papa Bouba Diop, Steed Malbranque, Claus Jensen, Niclas Jensen, Luis Boa Morte, Tomasz Radzinski (Collins John 70), Brian McBride (Heidar Helguson 81) Subs (not used): Ricardo Batista, Ahmed Elrich, Phillipe Christanval

 

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