West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 3
- Stuart Attwell
Goals from Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernández and Jonjo Shelvey saw Newcastle United claim a fine away win at West Ham United on Saturday afternoon.
Clark’s thumping header gave United the lead 16 minutes in before Fernández nodded in a second to give Newcastle a firm grip on the contest.
But their continued pressure paid off in the second half when the excellent Shelvey’s sublime free kick put them 3-0 up at the home of the Hammers.
Fabian Balbuena and Robert Snodgrass struck to give West Ham hope in the final quarter of an hour, but it was to be Newcastle’s day as their most dominant display of the season so far earned them a valuable victory in the capital.
It was a blistering start from Bruce’s men at the London Stadium. Though the hosts had forced a few corners early on, it was United who made the first real opening – and they took it. Almirón was tripped in full flight by Issa Diop, and Shelvey curled the resulting free kick towards Joelinton at the far post. The Brazilian nodded it back across goal, where Clark outmuscled Aaron Cresswell and planted a firm header beyond Roberto and into the top corner.
Six minutes later, Newcastle profited from some more lax defending from the hosts. It was a fine move on the visitors part, though, with Shelvey’s short corner finding Saint-Maximin, who in turn teed up Jetro Willems. The Dutchman’s cross was perfectly timed and with Fernández having snuck in behind the oncoming Hammers’ backline, he had plenty of space to cushion a header over Roberto and into an empty net.
It was a superb opening half from the Magpies, who could have effectively wrapped the game up by the break. Two minutes after Fernández’s header they squandered a glaring opportunity to make it three when Saint-Maximin raced onto Willems’ pass as his side countered at speed. His pace allowed him the freedom of the Hammers’ half, but when he reached the box Roberto stopped his shot, throwing out a leg to deny the former Nice winger.
An even better chance came soon after, and again Saint-Maximin’s direct running made it. The 22-year-old raced onto a long ball over the top, breezing past veteran full back Pablo Zabaleta and sprinting clear, only to see Roberto get a hand to his dinked effort. But the rebound fell kindly for him and left him with only the retreating Felipe Anderson to beat on the line, but he chose to square the ball for Almirón, whose finish was blocked.
Then, seconds later, the influential Shelvey – on his first start since September – took aim from the edge of the box and rattled the woodwork, leaving Roberto helpless. West Ham tried to muster a response but, after Martin Dúbravka had produced a fine save to keep out Fabian Balbuena’s header, Newcastle went close again, with Roberto forced to tip Saint-Maximin’s swerving strike round the post.
With Bruce’s side firmly in control, and looking likely to extend their advantage, West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini sent on Manuel Lanzini and Albian Ajeti for the second half, but the changes had little immediate impact – in fact, Newcastle picked up where they left off after the restart, with DeAndre Yedlin seeing a close-range finish chalked off for offside.
And five minutes after the restart, they finally made it three. It was a wonderful strike from Shelvey, a 25-yard free kick that bent in from outside the upright and beat Roberto, finding the bottom corner and prompting the Londoner to turn and sprint towards the travelling supporters and celebrate a richly-deserved first goal of the campaign.
The final half an hour saw West Ham pose a few more questions, and they managed to pull two goals back to set up a nervy finale. Centre back Balbuena shunted home when a corner fell kindly to him at point-blank range in the 73rd minute, before Snodgrass’ well-taken volley further raised their hopes of a last-gasp comeback.
But it wasn’t to be for the hosts as a leveller eluded them, and the visitors soaked up their late pressure to make sure the three points would be coming back to Tyneside.