NEWCASTLE keeper Tim Krul went from strength to strength against Fulham – but the keeper shrugged off praise for his saves.
Krul impressively denied Steve Sidwell, Chris Baird and Danny Murphy among others in yesterday’s 2-1 win over Fulham.
The result saw Newcastle United end the weekend lying sixth in the Premier league, having won two and drawn one of their first three games.
Krul has been outstanding between the posts this season, and the Holland cap said: “You can always look back and say that afterwards the saves helped.
“But three more points and seven points from three games is out of this world.
“The one to stop Danny Murphy was about waiting for him to put the header in. I wanted to change the direction, and I was pleased to see it go over the bar.”
Clint Dempsey’s late consolation goal – heading home Murphy’s cross – denied Newcastle their best defensive start to a season since 1902/03.
Krul added: “We’ve been working on the defence over the summer, and the manager keeps hammering on to keep the defence solid for the midfield in front of us.
“I didn’t have too much to do in the first two league games, but, in the last two matches, I had more.
“It’s still fantastic for us we have only conceded one in three games. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep a clean sheet and that is disappointing.
“Overall, we can be so happy, and the fans can be happy as well. Last year we were strong on defending set-pieces, and we showed it again. We want to be really solid.”
Striker Leon Best got his season up and running with a match-winning double – yet he was only handed a start after Shola Ameobi failed a late fitness test on a hip problem.
Best seized the chance with both hands, scooping up a rebound for his first goal, and cleverly turning after taking a ball from sub Demba Ba for his second.
“I’m in the position again, and I thank the manager for giving me the opportunity and always giving me belief,” Best said.
“It’s just a wonderful feeling to have.
“We have put ourselves in a great position in the league, and I wish the next game was sooner.”
Like Ryan Taylor – who had netted free-kicks in United’s previous two games after being asked to play at left-back in the wake of Jose Enrique’s departure – Best’s determined to make the most of every opportunity.
“Ryan is like myself, he’s been asked to come in and do a job,” he said. “As soon as we get the chance, you have to take it.”
On his goals, Best said: “It was a great shot by Yohan (Cabaye) for the first, and I got in front of the defender and followed it up and it was a nice little tap-in for me.
“I’d take that every game. When that goes in it gives you belief, and then I got another one.
“It was a nice counter-attack for us (for the second goal). Gabby (Obertan) did very well and found Demba, who put in a great ball in, and I just adjusted my feet to get a shot in.”
Fulham’s ex-Newcastle defender, Aaron Hughes, said: “We were disappointed to lose. We had a good spell in the first half, but Newcastle came back into the game.
“We started the second half looking to start well again, but unfortunately we conceded.
“We didn’t lose our heads too much, we kept going, but the second goal really knocked us back, and we really had to chase the game. We’re disappointed, but we’ll take positives out of the game.”
NEWCASTLE: Krul, Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini, R Taylor, Lovenkrands (Ba 62), Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Obertan, Best (Vuckic 78), Vuckic (Smith 85). Subs not used: Soderberg, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson. Booked: Simpson, Smith. Goals: Best 48, 66
FULHAM: Schwarzer, Briggs, Hughes, Hangeland, Baird, Dempsey, Murphy, Sidwell, Duff, Dembele, Kasami (Johnson 73). Subs: Etheridge, Kelly, Senderos, Gecov, Etuhu, Frei. Booked: Sidwell. Goal: Dempsey 88. Att: 42,684. Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)