Stoppage-time Cisse does it again!

Posted by Marc Duffy

Chris Brunskill/Getty ImagesPapiss Cisse continued his stoppage-time heroics for Newcastle, who gained some breathing room in the table and moved to 13th.

Newcastle United secured a hugely valuable three points in dramatic fashion yet again Sunday as Papiss Cisse scored his fourth stoppage time winner of the season to beat Fulham, 1-0.

It is the third time in only four weeks that a Cisse goal in added time has won Newcastle a critical game -- he scored a 93rd-minute winner vs Stoke (2-1) and a 94th-minute Europa League winner vs Anzhi (1-0). The man is never beaten.

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Newcastle thoroughly deserved their win. Although they were far from their best in the first half, they always looked the better team against a Fulham side who looked as if they believe they have already done enough to stay in the Premier League, which they probably have.

The first chance fell to Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov, who shot over the bar with the outside of his right foot after Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was robbed of the ball.

Newcastle suffered yet another injury blow as Davide Santon was taken off in the 17th minute -- Vurnon Anita replacing him. I was very sceptical of Alan Pardew's decision to drop Jonas Gutierrez into left back when Anita has played there comfortably in the past -- Jonas himself shrugged his shoulders in slight confusion at the decision but in the end he was arguably the best player on the pitch (he can arm-wrestle Sylvain Marveaux for the honour as both were excellent.) He played like the Jonas of old, possibly even better - powering down the left hand side time and time again but always finding the legs to get back in and dominate in his defensive duties. Jonas has received a lot of criticism this season, from me included, so give credit where credit is due.

The best of Newcastle's first-half opportunities fell to Cisse when Marveaux played him in. Cisse's finish was terrible and the tension of the crowd was obvious. Cisse has missed a hatfull of chances like this throughout the season.

A fantastic block by Yanga-Mbiwa prevented Bryan Ruiz from giving Fulham the lead at the Gallowgate and Tim Krul saved well from the resulting corner in a rare Fulham attack.

Eight minutes into the second half and an Anita strike deflected up and off the cross-bar -- the third time in four days the woodwork denied Newcastle. Plenty in St James' Park were praying that luck would swing in Newcastle's favour as these are fine margins.

Cisse had a cross-shot tipped over by Mark Schwarzer as Newcastle kept on piling forwards, hen Steven Taylor headed wide from the resulting corner. The set pieces were hugely improved with Marveaux taking them instead of Yohan Cabaye.

Yoan Gouffran squared a ball that gave Cisse a half-chance that he failed to take and moments later the ball fell to Taylor and his shot from 14 yards was saved by Schwarzer at the near post.

Another Marveaux corner was headed goalwards by Gouffran and it hit Sascha Riether -- the Gallowgate screamed for a handball as Cisse stabbed the rebound onto the post. Another strike of the woodwork.

Fulham almost snatched a lead but Berbatov's header was brilliantly saved by Krul -- one of the few touches the Dutch international would have.

Shola Ameobi came on to replace Gouffran and had a superb chance to score when a rare, accurate Danny Simpson cross found him open at the back post. Unfortunately, Shola failed to hit the target which didn't surprise many of the Gallowgate faithful.

To be fair to Ameobi his presence added a more physical dimension to Newcastle's game and he managed to barge his way through two Fulham defenders but his shot was sliced and he claimed he'd been fouled.

An excellent Newcastle break 88 minutes on was still not enough. Cabaye passed to Moussa Sissoko, who in turn played the ball out to the overlapping Anita. Anita delivered a great cross which Cisse headed goalbound, but aging Aussie Schwarzer made a superb save.

After all these chances, Newcastle fans would have been forgiven for thinking that it was not their day, but the chat around me was "Come on Papiss, lets have another Anzhi!" -- and yet again, the Senegalese scorer supplied.

The referee's assistant displayed five minutes of stoppage time and three minutes into thatm a Cabaye shot fell into the path of Cisse who stuck the ball in the net to give Newcastle all three points. Pardew hugged the fans on the touchline and Cisse was booked for his celebration (football, the game where you can get off with no punishment after a violent, high-foot challenge but be cautioned for celebrating a stoppage-time winner in a relegation battle!)

Sunderland's defeat at Chelsea and the QPR-Wigan draw mean Newcastle are now up to 13th with five points between them and the bottom three target="_blank". A win in the derby game at St James' next weekend should be enough to see Newcastle safe.

Papiss Cisse -- the man who likes to test the strength of supporters hearts!

In Summary

Fulham can't argue with the result but they will be disappointed to lose so late. Late goals have been a feature of Newcastle's season with goals in the last five minutes against Everton, West Brom, Chelsea, Stoke and Fulham adding nine points to Newcastle's total -- an incredible one-quarter of their total points this season. Without these late-late goals, Newcastle would be third from bottom but it doesn't matter when you score them! They show that despite a season of underperforming, the team still have a great battling spirit.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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