Hat-trick Dempsey stuns Newcastle
LONDON, England – Clint Dempsey bagged a hat-trick as Fulham dented Newcastle’s push for a top four finish with a 5-2 victory at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Martin Jol’s side trailed to Danny Guthrie’s goal late in the first half, but Danny Murphy equalised from the penalty spot soon after the break before American midfielder Dempsey struck twice in six minutes to swing the game Fulham’s way.
Bobby Zamora converted another Fulham penalty and, although Hatem Ben Arfa got one back for Newcastle, it was Dempsey who sealed the victory with his third goal — and his second treble in three games — in the final moments.
Dempsey’s heroics — which came just 24 hours after he was named America’s player of the year — lifted Fulham eight points clear of the relegation zone and stopped sixth placed Newcastle closing the gap on fourth placed Chelsea in the race for Champions League places.
It was a remarkable result considering Newcastle had dominated the first half.
Shola Ameobi couldn’t convert an early headed chance and French midfielder Ben Arfa tested Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale with a long range effort.
Ameobi headed wide again in the 21st minute, while Cottagers defender Philippe Senderos almost headed a Leon Best chip into his own net after ignoring calls from Stockdale.
Stockdale tipped wide a rasping Ameobi effort, but he could do nothing to stop a superb 25-yard strike by Guthrie in the 43rd minute.
Fulham emerged with a more focused approach after half-time and earned a penalty six minutes into the second period when Damien Duff was brought down inside the box by Davide Santon.
Murphy sent Krul the wrong way to slot home the resulting penalty and it wasn’t long before Fulham were ahead in the 59th minute
Bobby Zamora’s shot was parried by Krul and Dempsey bundled home at the far post.
Fulham struck again six minutes later. Johnson laid off to Zamora and he played through Dempsey, who showed composure to fire across Krul.
Jol’s team were turning on the style now and netted a fourth in the 68th minute when Johnson shrugged off a rough challenge by Mike Williamson before being hauled down by Krul, who received a booking and was then beaten from the spot by Zamora.
Newcastle pulled a goal back five minutes from time as Ben Arfa jinked past John Arne Riise to fire home, but Dempsey sealed the win in the 89th minute with his 15th goal of the season.
He burst through the middle to latch onto Zamora’s pass and slotted past Krul.
Elsewhere Queens Park Rangers moved out of the relegation zone after goals from Heidar Helguson, Akos Buzsaky and Tommy Smith gave new manager Mark Hughes the first victory of his reign with a 3-1 win over bottom club Wigan.
Wigan had raised hopes of a fightback in the second half when Hugo Rodallega pulled one back to make it 2-1, before goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi pulled off a stunning penalty save for the Latics.
But QPR’s third, scored by Smith nine minutes from time, killed the game off and means that Roberto Martinez’s side are now four points adrift of safety.
Meanwhile, Blackburn grabbed a 1-1 draw against Everton at Goodison Park, David Goodwillie equalising for Rovers after Tim Cahill’s first goal for 13 months gave Everton the lead on 24 minutes.
A dramatic finale at the Britannia Stadium saw West Bromwich Albion snatch a 2-1 win over Stoke.
Graham Dorrans’ injury-time free-kick clinched the three points for the Baggies after Stoke had looked to have secured a share of the points with Cameron Jerome’s 86th-minute equaliser.
West Brom had taken the lead through James Morrison on 35 minutes after Thomas Sorensen’s blunder.
Sunderland’s resurgence under Martin O’Neill gathered pace with a 2-0 win over Swansea, Stephane Sessegnon scoring the opener after working a clever one-two with James McClean on 14 minutes.
Substitute Craig Gardner wrapped up the points seven minutes after coming on as the Black Cats good form continued.
Elsewhere, Robbie Keane made a triumphant return for Aston Villa, scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Wolves in his first match back since completing a loan move from MLS team Los Angeles Galaxy.
Darren Bent put Villa ahead with a penalty on 11 minutes but Wolves fought back to go 2-1 up through Michael Kightly and David Edwards.
But Keane completed a fairytale return for Villa with a 51st minute equaliser before snatching the winner six minutes from time.