Football: Ben Arfa's late show lifts Newcastle
NEWCASTLE, United Kingdom (AFP) - Hatem Ben Arfa left it late to fire Newcastle to their first Premier League victory of the season as the Magpies secured a 1-0 win over Fulham on Saturday.
The St James' Park clash looked to be heading for a stalemate until French midfielder Ben Arfa controlled a deep 86th minute cross from Davide Santon, cut inside two defenders and fired a stunning strike into the top corner past David Stockdale from just inside the area.
It was a deserved winner for the hosts, who in the process ended a 411-minute wait for a top-flight goal and registered their first league win since beating Fulham in April.
There was more good news for boss Alan Pardew as Yohan Cabaye brought an end to his Newcastle strike action, the French midfielder welcomed back to the fold after refusing to play in the opening three games in a so-far failed bid to push through a move to Arsenal before the transfer deadline on Sept 2.
Cabaye received a mixed welcome from Newcastle supporters when he entered the fray as a 65th-minute substitute, playing an inadvertent role in Fulham's clearest chance when his foul on Alex Kacaniklic saw Bryan Ruiz force a fine save from Tim Krul with the resulting free-kick.
Loic Remy made his Newcastle debut from the bench, the loan signing from QPR helping add to the late impetus that saw the hosts finish strongly and finally earn their reward through Ben Arfa's memorable goal.
Papiss Cisse came close to breaking the deadlock with a 78th-minute header that struck the bar from Ben Arfa's cross, before the impressive Stockdale saved with his feet at the near post to deny Ben Arfa, and Yoan Gouffran headed wide from Ben Arfa's cross as Fulham were forced to hang on.
The contest had followed a similar pattern before the break, Newcastle carving out the best of the few openings.
Cisse failed to get out of the way to inadvertently block a goal-bound header from Fabricio Coloccini as the defender met Sylvain Marveaux's corner with a firm downward header eight yards out.
Stockdale saved at the second attempt from Mathieu Debuchy's long-range effort, before poor control by Cisse denied the forward a clear chance from Moussa Sissoko's intelligent pass into the Fulham area.
Cisse rounded off a frustrating first-half for the Senegal international as he headed wide from Debuchy's deep cross after engineering space in the area.
After the flurry of late chances, there was still time for Debuchy to rise unchallenged 15 yards out at Ben Arfa's corner, only for the French defender to aim his header off target when it looked easier to score.
Coloccini's uncharacteristic error presented Fulham midfielder Adel Taarabt with a clear shot on goal with just five minutes left, but the substitute's mishit shot was well saved by Krul.
Fulham were left to rue the miss as Ben Arfa rounded off a man-of-the-match display to earn a vital win for his side.