This montage had long been prophesied as the last-day survival showdown.
In the end, it was a dead rubber best remembered for a solo goal by a young man for whom relegation scraps shouldn’t be a problem.
Loaned Arsenal Joe Willock scored in his seventh straight game for Newcastle, tying a feat last achieved by Alan Shearer 25 years ago. At 21, the future of the midfielder belongs to the top of the ranking.
Newcastle beat Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage on Premier League final matchday
It was Joe Willock (right) and Fabian Schar (not pictured) who scored for Newcastle in the victory
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATING
Fulham (3-4-1-2): Rodak 5; Tete 5.5, Adarabioyo 6, Rame 6; Decordova-Reid 6, Anguissa 5 (Loftus-Cheek 46, 6), Onomah 6, Bryan 6,5 (François 77, 5); Carvalho 6, Lookman 6 (Maja 65, 6); Chevalier 5
Subs not used: Areola, Hector, Aina, Lemina, Jasper
Director: Scott Parker 6
Newcastle (3-5-2): Dubravka 6; Krafth 6,5 (Schar 73, 6,5), Fernandez 6,5, Dummett 6,5; Murphy 6.5, Willock 7.5, Shelvey 6, S Longstaff 6.5, Ritchie 6.5; Almiron 6 (Hendrick 80), Saint-Maximin 5,5 (Gayle 65, 5)
Subs not used: Gillespie, Clark, M Longstaff, Carroll, Lewis, Manquillo
Buts: Willock 23, Schar 88 (stylo)
Director: Steve Bruce 6.5
Arbitrator: C Kavanagh 6
Presence: 2 000
But what about next season? Steve Bruce wants to sign him permanently. To that end, it may not have been helpful.
Each goal in recent weeks has either added a few millions to Willock’s price tag or, more likely, made it too risky for Arsenal to do without a young English talent with such a promise.
Bruce said: “We would love to bring him back, hope we can test Arsenal’s resolve. “
Willock’s goal streak led Newcastle to a remarkable 12th place finish. Remarkable given that after Brighton’s loss in March they were favorites to pass Fulham.
That says a lot about Fulham’s later form who, had Newcastle lost every game since, would still have entered this level of play with points with Scott Parker’s side.
Indeed, Fulham signed with a tribute performance to his entire season – pass, pass, pass, miss.
“We spent most of the game in their half and missed some big chances,” said Parker. “It’s a snapshot of our season. “
Newcastle, meanwhile, did not start with a recognized striker. You don’t need it when you have Willock.
His goal, in the 23rd minute, shattered a banal opening. Since the stakes were as low as Fulham’s position in the league, a pedestrian departure was to be expected.
But there was nothing from the sleepy Sunday stroll about Willock’s efforts. It says a lot about his mentality right now that, recovering the ball 20 yards into his own half, his first thought was to head for Fulham’s penalty area.
The result is a disappointment for Fulham – who has bid farewell to the Premier League
Following his form this season, Steve Bruce wants to make Willock’s contract permanent
Willock let down those in pursuit and got the break he deserved when, following Tim Ream’s tackle attempt, he crushed the loose ball in the bottom corner after it ran inviting for him .
Newcastle defender Fabian Schar took a penalty two minutes from time to secure victory after a second half in which the hosts dominated.
Fulham, as always, played pretty well, at least in terms of territory and possession – yet they didn’t register a shot on target.
Willock’s goal streak has led Newcastle to a remarkable 12th place this season
Schar also contributed to their success after throwing a penalty two minutes from time.
While Ivan Cavaleiro has been disappointing for Fulham – with a lack of finish highlighted
Their £ 15million striker Ivan Cavaleiro is adept at working good openings but that only exposes the flaws in his finish. He should have equalized when he played on goal in the 56th minute, only for his mad efforts to send those in the low rows to dodge for cover.
It was a recurring theme, with home fans using their club clappers as an impromptu shield. Fulham’s final candidacy was really sad.
Willock, on the other hand, was really wonderful.