Fulham 0 Newcastle 4
Lacklustre Fulham bookended their miserable stay in the Premier League with a 10th home defeat of the season.
The relegated Whites simply couldn’t replicate some of the encouraging performances of recent weeks, and four goals from the mid-table Magpies by Jonjo Shelvey, Ayoze Perez, Fabian Schar and Salomon Rondon were more than sufficient to take the points back to Tyneside.
It was an afternoon with plenty to consider for the home fans. With the Cottagers already preparing for life in the Championship, this final game of their campaign may also represent the climax for Aleksandar Mitrovic, captain Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon in Fulham colours.
The game had barely settled into a rhythm after the home fans had afforded warm applause for Scott Parker – named the Whites new permanent manager this week – before the Magpies swooped to serve up two clinically-taken goals.
In the ninth minute, Shelvey crashed a perfect 18 yard volley into the top corner of the net when the midfielder was unmarked and lurking in wait for Matt Ritchie’s corner. Not even in-form Fulham keeper Sergio Rico could thwart a shot of such searing quality.
Fulham were still reeling when Rafa Benitez’s men doubled their lead two minutes later. After some good work by Christian Atsu driving forward, the midfielder’s shot was only parried by Rico into the path of Perez, who scrambled the ball home. The hosts’ best response when it eventually came, was a shot from 20 yards by Floyd Ayite which sailed inches over.
Parker’s side managed to keep composed in their attempts to undo the damage but Mitrovic in particular was finding it difficult to break down his former club to cause any threat. At the other end, Salomon Rondon could have made it three but the unmarked forward dragged his shot wide from a Perez pass.
The Whites asserted themselves at the start of the second half and put the Magpies under considerable pressure. But again, they were caught eventually, conceding the kind of goal which has consigned Parker’s men to relegation. Schar had the easiest of tasks to head home from close range from Ritchie’s corner on the hour.
Fulham sent on Ryan Babel – another high-profile player poised to leave – for Cyrus Christie in the aftermath. However, the task was already beyond the west Londoners. Other than a shot from teenage substitute Harvey Elliott which was well saved by Martin Dubravka, the struggle to open up more confident, aggressive opponents was again glaringly obvious. Dishevelled Fulham’s suffering was complete when Rondon swept home on the break in the closing moments, after the forward’s initial shot was well stopped by the exposed Rico.
A new season in the Championship allied to summer squad rebuilding for Parker awaits.