Newcastle United snatched a dramatic 1-0 victory at home to Fulham on Sunday afternoon with an 89th minute winner from Alexander Isak.
Aleksandr Mitrovic was once a big-money addition to Newcastle's frontline but squandered a golden chance to remind the Magpies of what they were missing on his return to Tyneside. Fulham's leading scorer scuffed a calamitous second-half penalty onto his standing leg, seeing his spot-kick ruled out before Newcastle's record arrival nodded in at the death.
Eddie Howe's side has been rightly lauded for their league-best defensive record but their wait for a Premier League goal at the right end of the pitch dragged to six consecutive halves of top-flight football after a profligate opening 45 minutes from the hosts.
Bruno Guimaraes limped into the half-time interval in tears but before damaging his ankle the Brazilian slipped Sean Longstaff into the box with a silk-lined pass. Issa Diop hauled himself in the way, providing a block in the opening five minutes which was emblematic of the last-ditch defending Fulham were repeatedly forced into.
Diop rebuffed Callum Wilson's shot from almost the same blade of grass and snuffed out Joe Willock's angle for an attempt. Wilson managed to escape Diop's clutches on the cusp of half-time but wriggling into the box before he was denied by Bernd Leno for the third time already.
Newcastle's frustration wasn't restricted to open play. Fabian Schar convinced Kieran Trippier to let him take a second-half set piece, bending a free kick from 25 yards out onto the base of the post.
Fulham hadn't been afforded a sniff of Newcastle's net before launching a pair of penalty appeals three-quarters of the way through the contest. VAR deemed Bobby Decordova-Reid's wails worthy of a spot-kick after the fleet-footed forward lured Trippier into a stray kick.
Mitrovic, in front of the fans who once cheered him on, slipped as he connected with the penalty. The ball span into the net but Fulham's celebrations were swiftly cut short as the goal was rightly ruled out for Mitrovic's double-touch.
Diop was cruelly punished for a rare error right at the death of an impressive performance. Jumping underneath Longstaff's cross, Diop failed to prevent Wilson prodding the ball across the box for Isak to nod in from close range.
Newcastle player ratings
GK: Nick Pope - 5/10 - Given precious little to do, even when faced with a spot kick.
RB: Kieran Trippier - 7/10 - Newcastle's chief creative outlet, dominating the right wing as he peppered Fulham's box with probing deliveries. Got away with a lazy boot on Decordova-Reid.
CB: Fabian Schar - 7/10 - Took a front-foot approach to win the ball back with great success.
CB: Sven Botman - 7/10 - Solid if unspectacular.
LB: Dan Burn - 5/10 - Holding a reserved position off the ball, adding an extra layer of protection to Newcastle's rearguard.
CM: Sean Longstaff - 6/10 - Tirelessly chugging from one end of St. James' Park to the other, offering himself as another set of black and white stripes in the opposition box.
CM: Bruno Guimaraes - 6/10 - Showed flashes of the unrivalled flair he offers before eventually giving in to an ankle injury that reduced him to tears.
CM: Joe Willock - 6/10 - Alternating roles with Joelinton down Newcastle's fluid left flank.
RW: Miguel Almiron - 4/10 - Jinked and jostled for space which he found hard to come by.
ST: Callum Wilson - 8/10 - Wasteful when he forced his way in front of goal but kept pushing until providing the winner.
LW: Joelinton - 6/10 - Starting in spite of his drink-driving charge in midweek, Joelinton showed few signs of distraction in a typically diligent display.
Allan Saint-Maximin (46' for Guimaraes) - 5/10 - Struggled to get up to speed with the contest.
Alexander Isak (71' for Willock) - 7/10 - In the right place at just the right time.
Jacob Murphy (85' for Almiron) - N/A.
Eddie Howe - 7/10 - In the end, Howe's adventure paid off after tossing on Isak alongside Wilson flanked by Saint-Maximin and Almiron.
Fulham player ratings
GK: Bernd Leno - 7/10 - Not entirely convincing with the ball at his feet but alert and alive with his gloves.
RB: Kenny Tete - 5/10 - More likely to venture forward than his opposite full-back.
CB: Issa DIop - 7/10 - On the front foot from the off, itching to heave his significant frame in the way of the ball.
CB: Tim Ream - 6/10 - Did his best to stick touch-tight to Wilson wherever he strayed.
LB: Layvin Kurzawa - 5/10 - Kept his passing safe and simple but wasn't quite as accurate with his tackles.
CM: Harrison Reed - 6/10 - Tasked with covering a prodigious amount of ground, charging forward to support Fulham's attacks and scurrying back alongside Joao Palhinha otherwise.
CM: Joao Palhinha - 6/10 - Repeatedly snatched possession back for Fulham but showed little care once he was on the ball.
AM: Andreas Pereira - 5/10 - Struggled to exert a significant influence on proceedings.
RW: Willian - 4/10 - Skirted around the fringes of the game.
ST: Aleksandr Mitrovic - 3/10 - The lowlight of an anonymous display will litter blooper reels for seasons to come.
LW: Bobby Decordova-Reid - 6/10 - Showed excellent slight of foot to win the second-half spot-kick.
Tosin Adarabioyo (78' for Willian) - 5/10
Dan James (78' for Pereira) - 5/10
Carlos Vinicius (90+2' for Diop) - N/A
Tom Cairney (90+2' for Reed) - N/A
Harry Wilson (90+2' for Decordova-Reid) - N/A
Marco Silva - 4/10 - Aside from Mitrovic's erroneous penalty, Fulham didn't create anywhere near enough to warrant a goal and were eventually made to pay for their passive approach.
Player of the match - Callum Wilson (Newcastle)
Source : 90min