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Fulham beat title favourites Newcastle in Championship opener

Matt Smith

Championship title favourites Newcastle United were beaten 1-0 by Fulham in the opening match of the 2016-17 season.

Matt Smith headed in Tom Cairney's corner just before half-time to condemn the Magpies, relegated from the Premier League last season, to defeat.

The visitors had strong claims for a penalty before Smith's goal but Ryan Tunnicliffe's handball went unpunished.

Fulham goalkeeper David Button saved twice from Matt Ritchie, one of five Newcastle debutants at Craven Cottage.

Manager Rafael Benitez has spent close to £45m on eight summer signings but winger Ritchie and £10m striker Dwight Gayle were largely stifled by a Fulham side which finished 20th in the Championship last term.

England international Jonjo Shelvey was among the substitutes thrown on by Benitez in an attempt to get something from the game, but the hosts held firm.

Fulham offered a threat going forward, despite the departures of prolific strike partners Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele during the summer, with new arrivals Sone Aluko and Floyd Ayite linking up well with Smith in attack.

Aluko's appeals for a penalty after a possible push by Grant Hanley were ignored by referee Simon Hooper, while left-back Scott Malone fired just off target as Fulham chased a second goal.

Analysis

Jermaine Jenas, former Newcastle and England midfielder on BBC Radio 5 live

"Fulham thoroughly deserved it. They marshalled the game as they wanted it to go, they picked their opportunities to attack and Matt Smith was the match-winner.

"For Newcastle, it's back to the drawing board. It just didn't go their way."

Line-ups

Fulham

  • 27Button
  • 4OdoiBooked at 10mins
  • 26Kalas
  • 15Madl
  • 3Malone