MX23RW : Friday, January 18 08:28:14
Aug 5, 2016 at 7.45pm UK at ​Craven Cottage
Fulham
1-0
NewcastleNewcastle United
Smith (45')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Result: Newcastle United suffer defeat to Fulham in Championship opener

Newcastle United are denied two strong penalty appeals as they fall to a 1-0 defeat to Fulham in the opening game of the Championship season.

Matt Smith's headed goal on the brink of half time proved enough for Fulham to send Championship favourites Newcastle United to a 1-0 defeat in the opening game of the English Football League season.

The Magpies, who strolled to the title the last time they competed at this level, came to life in the second half but could only create a couple of openings in front of goal, although they did have two strong penalty shouts turned down.

It means a sixth successive home win for Fulham over their opponents at Craven Cottage to kick off the new season, and a sixth clean sheet in their last eight opening fixtures.

In an opening 45 minutes largely devoid of any real chances, the biggest talking point arrived 35 minutes in when Ryan Tunnicliffe blocked aside Matt Ritchie's left-sided cross with his outstretched arm.

Referee Simon Hooper, who had earlier called Grant Hanley's challenge on Sone Aluko inside the box correctly when waving play on, decided against pointing to the spot to the dismay of the travelling fans.

United fielded five debutants from the off, and it told in the first half as a large hold on possession counted for very little with no attempts on target for the visitors.

Fulham only performed marginally better, with the sharp Aluko ghosting past two men and getting a rare shot away which Matz Sels just about dealt with thanks to the covering Paul Dummett.

Smith's goal then arrived right on the brink of the interval, as he glanced Tom Cairney's corner into the back of the net after being left unmarked 12 yards out.

Visiting boss Rafael Benitez, one of two Champions League-winning managers in the Championship this season, decided against any changes at the break but did move Ritchie onto his favoured flank.

That meant Vurnon Anita switching out to the left, a move that almost paid instant dividends when the Dutchman picked out Ritchie just six yards out, only for the subsequent shot to be blasted into the legs of David Button - United's best chance of the match.

With the Magpies enjoying the lion's share of possession, the Whites were having to settle for hitting their opponents on the counter and so nearly profited when Smith headed down for Aluko.

Hanley was again at the centre of a penalty call when making contact with his opponent, but the referee once more waved played on to the relief of the United defender.

Ritchie and Scott Malone both came close for their respective sides soon after - the latter in particular creating a big opening only to scuff his left-footed shot wide of goal when played through.

Floyd Ayite very nearly settled things when creating a chance from nothing after turning and shooting in the box, although Fulham's hard work almost counted for little when Ritchie's shot was blocked by Kalas's hand in the box.

For the third time in the game Hooper declined the shouts for a penalty and allowed play to continue, meaning a big opening-day win for Fulham on home soil as they saw the remainder through.

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Grant Hanley of Scotland in action during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group A match between Scotland and Belgium at Hampden Park on September 6, 2013
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool22183150104057
2Manchester CityMan City22172359174253
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs22160646222448
4Chelsea22145340172347
5Arsenal22125546321441
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd22125544321241
7Watford229583232032
8Leicester CityLeicester229492625131
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham229493032-231
10Everton228683331230
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves228592328-529
12Bournemouth2283113142-1127
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2275102430-626
14Crystal Palace2264122028-822
15Burnley2263132343-2021
16Southampton2247112339-1619
17Cardiff CityCardiff2254131941-2219
18Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2246121631-1518
19Fulham2235142049-2914
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2225151337-2411

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