Already relegated Fulham bowed out of the Premier League with a defeat at the hands of Newcastle United thanks to a strike from Joe Willock and a penalty from Fabian Schar in the first and second half respectively.
Willock's superb solo effort saw him become the youngest player in Premier League history to score in second consecutive matches. Fulham tried to claw themselves back level but to no avail, and they saw their deficit doubled when Schar rolled home coolly from the penalty spot.
The result sees Fulham remain 18th, while Newcastle climb all the way to 12th in the final table.
Story of the game
Coming into the match, Fulham manager Scott Parker made three changes to the side that drew at Manchester United last time out. Marek Rodak replaced Player of the Season Alphonse Areola in goal, Kenny Tete came in for Mario Lemina, and Josh Onomah slotted into midfield in place of Harrison Reed.
Steve Bruce, meanwhile, made just the one adjustment to the Newcastle side that defeated bottom-placed Sheffield United, with Sean Longstaff replacing Joelinton in a move which saw Miguel Almiron pushed up into attack alongside Allan Saint-Maximin.
Craven Cottage was blessed by the presence of 2,000 fans this afternoon, audibly delighted to be there despite their already confirmed relegation to the second tier. The chant, "I'm Fulham 'till I die" rang around the ground from the moment the referee blew his whistle. It was a welcome semblance of normality.
Unfazed by the home atmosphere, though, Newcastle started the brightest, and nearly went ahead within five minutes when Saint-Maximin shimmied into the box and lashed an effort across goal, but Rodak managed to tip the ball wide of the post.
The plus-side of the weight of expectation being lifted from Fulham's shoulders was that they were able to play with more freedom here. With ten on the clock, Tosin Adarabioyo floated a good ball out wide to Ademola Lookman who brought it down, cut inside to skip past Emil Krafth and powered an effort towards the near post, but it was just wide of the target.
Lookman — probably playing his final game for the club — was the home side's bright spark. He picked the ball up in his own half and surged forward with the Newcastle defence retreating before feeding Ivan Cavaleiro to his left. The Portuguese forward then shifted the ball onto his right foot before arrowing an effort at goal but, again, it wasn't on target.
But it was Newcastle who took the lead, and the man that did it made history. Willock regained possession in the left-back position, expertly wriggling his way past the Fulham counter-press before darting into the green grass ahead of him. Within seconds he had arrived in the penalty area and, keeping hold of the ball after a strong challenge from Tim Ream, he finished coolly into the bottom corner.
In doing so, Willock became the youngest player ever to score in seven Premier League games in a row, a feat which has only previously been achieved by one Newcastle player of any age: a certain Alan Shearer.
With their fate already sealed and another defeat on the cards, what might have been of most interest to the Fulham fans was the performance of their teenage prospect Fabio Carvalho. The youngster looked lively, and came close to notching his second Premier League goal on the half-hour mark but for a brave block from Federico Fernandez.
Fulham went close again when heavy pressure on the Newcastle box presented the opportunity for Cavaleiro to strike at goal, but he arced his effort just high and wide of the far post.
The hosts were getting shots off at goal, but the Magpies were doing a brilliant job of restricting the quality of those chances, and although the deficit was only one goal Fulham were going to have their work cut out salvaging anything from this match in the second half.
Frustrated with his side's output, Parker moved to shuffle his pack during the break, with Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek replacing Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa in midfield — this was likely the final appearance both will make for Fulham.
The beginning to the second period was tight and pretty scrappy, but Fulham were presented with the most golden of opportunities get themselves back on level terms ten minutes into it. Carvalho pounced on a sloppy pass out from Longstaff and slid the ball into Cavaleiro, one-on-one with Martin Dubravka, but the forward skied his effort from 12 yards out with all of the goal to aim for.
It wasn't Fulham's day, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that they'd need a moment of magic to spark themselves back into life and into contention for some points here. Carvalho nearly produced just that when he picked up possession just outside the box and curled an effort towards the far top corner, the ball whistling agonisingly wide of the frame of goal.
Buoyed by the profligacy of their hosts, Newcastle came close to doubling their advantage just past the hour mark when Matt Ritchie whipped a sumptuous corner straight onto the head of substitute Dwight Gayle, but his effort disappointingly failed to trouble Rodak.
The intensity of the game died down considerably as the game entered its latter stages, with Newcastle content with their lead and Fulham visibly frustrated at their inability to claw themselves level. The hosts were dealt bucketloads of meaningless possession and looked helpless as to how to make it count.
But Fulham were nearly gifted a goal with 80 minutes on the clock when Cavaleiro's viciously hit corner caused chaos in the Newcastle box. The ball appeared to ricochet off a number of heads before dropping to the ground and deflecting off Longstaff. It then started trickling towards goal, but Dubravka was on hand to claim it before it crossed the line.
The game was over when Tete clumsily felled Ritchie in the box. A short VAR check confirmed referee Chris Kavanagh's decision to award the penalty, and substitute Schar stepped up to roll the ball coolly in the bottom corner with Rodak diving the other way. Game, set and match to Newcastle, and with that the curtain was drawn on the 2020/21 Premier League season.
Takeaways from the match
Fulham: a future with or without Parker?
The manner of this season's relegation has been disappointing to say the very least. Many associated with Fulham feel the squad assembled probably had enough quality to stay afloat, not flounder to their downfall with such a whimper. Nonetheless, the hierarchy hardly place the blame with manager Parker and the plan in any event was to keep him in charge.
But relations between him and the board have reportedly soured since relegation, applying an element of doubt to both Parker's future and that of the club. However the managerial situation may play out, there will be a ruthlessly huge rebuild of the playing squad over the summer, and it is that which is likely to determine whether or not the Cottagers bounce straight back up as they did in 2019/20.
Newcastle: a future with or without Willock?
In the form of his life, adored by the fans, and now sharing a section in the record books with the Premier League's all-time top scorer, suffice to say Willock's loan spell at St James' Park has been a successful one. But was his goal today one last swansong, or merely the end to the first chapter of his Newcastle career?
Bruce is reportedly keen to make the deal a permanent one, but that is much, much easier said than done. Willock's form in the new year means his parent club Arsenal are likely to demand an even higher asking price than they may have previously anticipated, so it could come down to whether or not the club are prepared to blow the entirety of their summer budget on a single player — if anyone's worth the outlay, he is. All will be revealed in due course.
Fulham: Rodak; Tete, Adarabioyo, Ream; Decordova-Reid, Anguissa (Loftus-Cheek 46'), Onomah, Bryan (Francois 75'); Carvalho, Cavaleiro, Lookman (Maja 63').
Unused subs: Areola, Aina, Hector, Lemina, Jasper.
Newcastle United: Dubravka; Murphy, Krafth (Schar 71'), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie; S Longstaff, Shelvey, Willock; Saint-Maximin (Gayle 64'), Almiron (Hendrick 79').
Unused subs: Gillespie, Manquillo, Clark, Lewis, M Longstaff, Carroll.