Fulham ended a run of seven matches without victory by claiming a hard-fought win over struggling Newcastle.
Steve Sidwell put the Cottagers ahead with a deflected shot - their first goal in over five hours of football.
Newcastle levelled when Hatem Ben Arfa beat home keeper Mark Schwarzer with a dipping effort from 25 yards.
But Hugo Rodallega's close-range header ensured the home side claimed a win that moves them three points ahead of United in the Premier League table.
Both these teams have reason to be disappointed with their season so far with Newcastle's injury and suspension-riddled campaign a shadow of their impressive previous one and Fulham's promising start to 2012-13 having tailed off dramatically in recent weeks.
It was no surprise then that this game was a closely-contested affair, with mistakes proving as decisive to the outcome as fluency and skill.
Fulham produced the greater amount of the latter and fewer of the former.
Damien Duff clearly had the bit between his teeth and was a regular threat to his ex-club with direct runs and accurate deliveries from either wing, while Dimitar Berbatov was typically intelligent in his movement and touch.
Fulham's key men
- Dimitar Berbatov received 52 passes in tonight's game, 19 more than any other Fulham player.
- Damien Duff produced as many assists for Fulham this evening as he did in 68 Premier League appearances for Newcastle.
The Cottagers did not have it all their own way - particularly during a 20-minute spell either side of the Newcastle goal - but demonstrated an appetite for the cause that will assist their desire to rise up the table.
Newcastle boosted their flagging season with a much-needed victory over Wigan last Monday, but seven days later it is clear they have much more work to do if the corner is to be turned.
It was another disjointed performance from Alan Pardew's side, who too often failed to get their most dangerous attacking players on the ball in areas where they could hurt the home side.
Demba Ba was isolated in attack, fellow striker Papiss Cisse - who scored 13 goals in 14 games for Newcastle last season but has only four in 20 this campaign - was wasted in a role that saw him operate largely on the right while Ben Arfa showed clear glimpses of his talent but is not yet up to speed after missing four games through injury.
They remain without an away win all season and still uncomfortably close to the relegation zone.
They were on the back foot from the off and deservedly fell behind when Sidwell's first-time shot from Duff's pass looped up off the knee of Mike Williamson and found the net via the underside of the crossbar.
They should have trailed by more at the break but twice Berbatov was foiled - the first time by a good save from Tim Krul after the striker had run clear of the defence and the second by a defender on the line from a close-range shot.
Newcastle were more of a threat after the break and levelled when Ben Arfa caught Schwarzer out with a shot from 25 yards that looped into the net off the toe of a defender.
However, Fulham battled back and reclaimed the lead when poor marking allowed Rodallega to head home unmarked from Duff's free-kick.
Both sides subsequently hit the woodwork - Fabricio Coloccini curling a shot against the post from range and Mladen Petric striking the corner of the goal-frame from 20 yards - but no further goals came to leave Fulham delighted and Newcastle crestfallen.
Fulham manager Martin Jol: "It was a vital win. If you lose this game you get in a depression and we didn't want that.
"It wasn't easy, although if you look at the chances we had we should have finished it off a lot earlier.
"I was happy that [Dimitar] Berbatov, after talking to him, could fill in that role [behind the striker]. It was vital, he didn't score so that was disappointing, but on the other hand he linked us up and kept the team together - I was very happy with him."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The final whistle goes and the game is over.90:00 +3:56
The ball is crossed by Fabricio Coloccini, save made by Mark Schwarzer.90:00 +3:03
Foul by Sylvain Marveaux on Damien Duff, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Damien Duff.90:00 +1:52
Ashkan Dejagah challenges Jonas Gutierrez unfairly and gives away a free kick. Sylvain Marveaux crosses the ball in from the free kick, Steve Sidwell makes a clearance.90:00 +1:05
The ball is crossed by Jonas Gutierrez, save by Mark Schwarzer.89:27
Centre by Jonas Gutierrez, Demba Ba has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.88:46
The ball is crossed by Danny Simpson, Steve Sidwell manages to make a clearance.88:14
Mladen Petric has an effort at goal from outside the box hitting the post.87:34
Demba Ba takes a shot. Aaron Hughes gets a block in.86:52
Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Comfortable save by Tim Krul.85:01
Sascha Riether takes the free kick.85:01 Substitution
Substitution Gael Bigirimana comes on in place of Cheick Tiote.85:01 Substitution
Substitution Sylvain Marveaux on for Vurnon Anita.85:01 Substitution
Substitution Mladen Petric replaces Hugo Rodallega.85:01
Foul by Fabricio Coloccini on Steve Sidwell, free kick awarded.84:17
Davide Santon delivers the ball, save made by Mark Schwarzer.83:12
Jonas Gutierrez takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer.82:21
Demba Ba takes a shot. Mark Schwarzer makes a comfortable save.81:26
Shola Ameobi takes a shot. Mark Schwarzer makes a comfortable save.79:36
The ball is swung over by Davide Santon, clearance by Brede Hangeland.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Steve Sidwell on Jonas Gutierrez. Strike on goal comes in from Davide Santon from the free kick.76:53
Ashkan Dejagah challenges Jonas Gutierrez unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Vurnon Anita. The ball is sent over by Danny Simpson, Aaron Hughes makes a clearance.74:50
Foul by Shola Ameobi on Steve Sidwell, free kick awarded. Aaron Hughes restarts play with the free kick.74:24
Shot on goal by Steve Sidwell from just inside the area clears the crossbar.74:10
Damien Duff delivers the ball.73:02
A cross is delivered by Davide Santon, clearance by Brede Hangeland.71:49
Free kick awarded for a foul by Shola Ameobi on Sascha Riether. Direct free kick taken by Aaron Hughes.71:23
Hugo Rodallega takes a shot. Tim Krul makes a comfortable save.70:40
Effort from the edge of the penalty area by Fabricio Coloccini hits the post. Vurnon Anita has an effort at goal from just outside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.69:36
Cheick Tiote restarts play with the free kick.69:36 Substitution
Substitution Hatem Ben Arfa leaves the field to be replaced by Shola Ameobi.69:36
Steve Sidwell challenges Demba Ba unfairly and gives away a free kick.69:09
Dimitar Berbatov challenges Tim Krul unfairly and gives away a free kick. Tim Krul restarts play with the free kick.68:54
A cross is delivered by Damien Duff, Jonas Gutierrez manages to make a clearance.68:25
Danny Simpson delivers the ball.66:46
The assistant referee flags for offside against Papiss Cisse. Indirect free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.65:17
A cross is delivered by Danny Simpson.64:59
Chris Baird challenges Cheick Tiote unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Cheick Tiote.62:52
The assist for the goal came from Damien Duff.62:52 Goal scored
Goal! - Hugo Rodallega - Fulham 2 - 1 Newcastle Hugo Rodallega finds the net with a headed goal from deep inside the penalty area. Fulham 2-1 Newcastle.62:09
Foul by Cheick Tiote on Ashkan Dejagah, free kick awarded. A cross is delivered by Damien Duff,61:23 Substitution
Substitution Ashkan Dejagah replaces Alex Kacaniklic.61:23
Steve Sidwell takes a shot. Save made by Tim Krul.60:23
Shot from just outside the box by Alex Kacaniklic goes over the crossbar.57:36
Demba Ba takes a shot. Mark Schwarzer makes a comfortable save.56:13
Corner taken right-footed by Vurnon Anita, save by Mark Schwarzer.55:27
Danny Simpson sends in a cross.53:21
Assist by Vurnon Anita.53:21 Goal scored
Goal! - Hatem Ben Arfa - Fulham 1 - 1 Newcastle Goal scored by Hatem Ben Arfa from outside the penalty area to the top left corner of the goal. Fulham 1-1 Newcastle.52:16
A cross is delivered by Hatem Ben Arfa. Centre by Danny Simpson, blocked by Alex Kacaniklic. Danny Simpson produces a cross, Brede Hangeland makes a clearance.52:01
The ball is delivered by Danny Simpson, Brede Hangeland makes a clearance.51:16
The ball is swung over by Jonas Gutierrez, blocked by John Arne Riise.50:14
Dimitar Berbatov produces a right-footed shot from close range which goes wide of the right-hand upright.48:51
The ball is crossed by Alex Kacaniklic, Danny Simpson gets a block in. Corner taken by Chris Baird from the left by-line, Davide Santon manages to make a clearance.46:52
Vurnon Anita takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.46:20
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonas Gutierrez by Hugo Rodallega. Fabricio Coloccini takes the free kick.45:01
The referee gets the second half started.45:00 +1:22 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.44:17
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba takes a shot. Clearance by Sascha Riether.43:10
Jonas Gutierrez produces a drilled right-footed shot from 25 yards. Brede Hangeland gets a block in. Corner taken by Hatem Ben Arfa from the right by-line played to the near post, save made by Mark Schwarzer. Vurnon Anita takes a shot. Save made by Mark Schwarzer.41:10
Foul by Steve Sidwell on Cheick Tiote, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Tim Krul.39:21
Centre by Danny Simpson, Brede Hangeland makes a clearance. Free kick awarded for a foul by Danny Simpson on Alex Kacaniklic. Chris Baird restarts play with the free kick.38:12
Effort on goal by John Arne Riise from long range goes harmlessly over the bar.37:13
Alex Kacaniklic crosses the ball, Tim Krul makes a comfortable save.36:33
Free kick awarded for a foul by Hatem Ben Arfa on Hugo Rodallega. Chris Baird restarts play with the free kick.36:02
Danny Simpson sends in a cross.34:44
Dimitar Berbatov gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Fabricio Coloccini. Tim Krul restarts play with the free kick.33:50
Handball by Steve Sidwell. Direct free kick taken by Demba Ba.33:04
Hugo Rodallega fouled by Mike Williamson, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Chris Baird.31:32
The ball is sent over by Davide Santon, Shot from deep inside the area by Hatem Ben Arfa clears the bar.30:36
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Vurnon Anita, Fabricio Coloccini takes a shot. Sascha Riether manages to make a clearance.29:24
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Aaron Hughes by Papiss Cisse. Free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.29:01
The ball is delivered by Sascha Riether, Tim Krul makes a save. Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Mike Williamson manages to make a clearance.26:40
Jonas Gutierrez sends in a cross.24:52
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Damien Duff, clearance by Fabricio Coloccini. Corner taken by Damien Duff, Demba Ba makes a clearance.24:05
Davide Santon takes a shot. Comfortable save by Mark Schwarzer.23:52
Jonas Gutierrez sends in a cross, Aaron Hughes makes a clearance.23:00
The ball is delivered by Papiss Cisse, Brede Hangeland manages to make a clearance.22:25
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on John Arne Riise by Danny Simpson. John Arne Riise restarts play with the free kick.21:19
Free kick awarded for a foul by Danny Simpson on Alex Kacaniklic. Direct free kick taken by John Arne Riise.20:25
Steve Sidwell challenges Jonas Gutierrez unfairly and gives away a free kick. Vurnon Anita takes the direct free kick.19:48
Dimitar Berbatov has a drilled shot. Save made by Tim Krul.18:12
The assist for the goal came from Damien Duff.18:12 Goal scored
Goal! - Steve Sidwell - Fulham 1 - 0 Newcastle Steve Sidwell gets on the score sheet with a goal from just inside the penalty area high into the middle of the goal. Fulham 1-0 Newcastle.17:25
A cross is delivered by Damien Duff, Hugo Rodallega produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the bar.15:20
Shot from outside the area by Chris Baird misses to the left of the target.14:40
A cross is delivered by Papiss Cisse, Mark Schwarzer makes a comfortable save.14:08
Effort from outside the penalty area by Vurnon Anita goes wide left of the target.13:32
Corner taken by Chris Baird, Davide Santon manages to make a clearance.13:21
A cross is delivered by Alex Kacaniklic, blocked by Danny Simpson.13:02
Sascha Riether sends in a cross, Fabricio Coloccini makes a clearance.12:02
Dimitar Berbatov challenges Jonas Gutierrez unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Tim Krul.10:35
Vurnon Anita fouled by Alex Kacaniklic, the ref awards a free kick. Fabricio Coloccini takes the free kick.10:14
Centre by Damien Duff, Davide Santon gets a block in.8:54
Jonas Gutierrez takes a shot. Blocked by Chris Baird. The ball is swung over by Danny Simpson, save by Mark Schwarzer.7:43
The ball is crossed by Sascha Riether, comfortable save by Tim Krul.5:56
A cross is delivered by Sascha Riether, Fabricio Coloccini makes a clearance.4:54
Damien Duff sends in a cross, blocked by Jonas Gutierrez. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Damien Duff, Chris Baird takes a shot. Clearance made by Cheick Tiote.4:01
The ball is delivered by Danny Simpson, clearance by Aaron Hughes.2:50
Centre by Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson has a headed effort at goal from just inside the area that misses to the right of the target.2:13
Foul by Dimitar Berbatov on Hatem Ben Arfa, free kick awarded. Vurnon Anita takes the free kick.0:54
Effort from the edge of the area by Alex Kacaniklic goes wide of the right-hand post.0:16
Damien Duff crosses the ball.0:00
The game kicks-off.
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