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Newcastle boost European challenge


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LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Newcastle United boosted their chances of a Champions League spot when they beat Fulham 3-1 at home to leapfrog both the London side and Liverpool in the Premier League standings.

First half goals from defender Andy O'Brien and midfielder Gary Speed plus an extraordinary acrobatic effort from Laurent Robert in the second half earned the victory.

Fulham, missing the sparkle of striker Louis Saha who was lured to Manchester United this week, scored through Sean Davis on 74 minutes.

The result sent Newcastle from seventh place to fifth on 33 points, four points adrift of Charlton who hold the fourth Champions League place behind runaway trio Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Fulham remain on 31 and Liverpool on 32.

Fulham were on the back foot from the fourth minute. O'Brien got hold of a loose ball after Alan Shearer's strike had been blocked by a massed Fulham defence and hooked it home from two meters.

Newcastle had the best of the half but did not add to their score until the 41st minute when Speed nodded in at the near post from a corner.

Bobby Robson's side made it three in the 53rd minute after Kieron Dyer and Nolberto Solano combined and sent the ball into the box. Robert turned a somersault and knocked hit home with the heel of his boot.



Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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