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Newcastle: Callum Wilson was the real hero vs Fulham

Newcastle United‘s club record signing Alexander Isak struck just minutes from time on his return from the treatment table, as Eddie Howe’s side ran out 1-0 winners over Fulham in what was a hard-fought encounter at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon.

Having come into the match off the back of two successive goalless draws against Leeds United and Arsenal in the league, it looked set to be more of the same as the game ebbed towards its climax, only for the aforementioned Isak to emerge as the matchwinner with a simple header at the back post, with former Magpies man Aleksandar Mitrovic having earlier produced a penalty shootout blunder at the other end following a contentious VAR call.

The Sweden international had only entered the fray off the bench for what was just his fourth Premier League appearance of the season so far in what has been a frustrating, injury-stricken campaign to date, albeit with the 23-year-old now boasting a haul of three goals for the club despite his limited game time.

That latest, headline-grabbing effort had, however, been teed up superbly by strike partner Callum Wilson, with the Englishman delicately finding his fellow forward with a neat, dinked pass following some clever footwork inside the area.

That vital assist was just reward for what had been an all-round, heroic performance from the former Bournemouth man on the day, with the 30-year-old having notably won four of his eight ground duels and two of his four aerial duels to illustrate his battling display through the middle.

Although the £46k-per-week man did lose possession on 14 occasions from his 36 touches against Marco Silva’s side, that was a mere as a result of his desire to make things happen in the final third, having also proven a constant menace for the Cottagers after winning three fouls in total.

In truth, all that was missing from the Coventry-born gem’s performance was a goal, having notably come close to breaking the deadlock just before the interval only to see his effort turned over the bar from Bernd Leno on the angle.

That attempt was then followed up with another arguably better opening on the stroke of half-time, with Wilson curling the ball straight into the gloves of that man Leno after having initially created space for himself with a delightful turn inside the penalty area.

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For all the frustration of having failed to get on the scoresheet himself, the 5 foot 11 ace showed impressive perseverance to eventually get that decisive touch at the death, with The Chronicle’s Lee Ryder having stated that he ‘deserves as much credit as the scorer for [his] crucial assist’.

That moment could well have helped to not only further enhance Newcastle’s push for Champions League qualification, but also ensure that a potential title charge remains a very real possibility.