Friday, October 19, 2018

West Ham 2 Newcastle United 3: Magpies´ slide ends in festive thriller

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Dec 2017

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Newcastle United moved out of the Premier League relegation zone as they claimed a first win in 10 games with a pulsating 3-2 victory over West Ham on Saturday.

The Magpies went into the contest at London Stadium having taken just one point from the last 27 available, and looked set for another long afternoon when Marko Arnautovic pounced on an early Christmas gift from Henri Saivet to open the scoring.

But Saivet, making his first start in central midfield under Rafael Benitez with Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden both injured, quickly equalised with a long-range free-kick.

Newcastle twice struck the woodwork as they enjoyed the better of the first half, and eventually completed the turnaround in the second as Mohamed Diame scored against his former club.

An immediate chance for West Ham to level was not taken when Andre Ayew saw a contentious penalty kept out by Rob Elliot and Christian Atsu soon punished him at the other end by capping off a lightning break from the hosts’ corner to put Newcastle two clear.

Ayew provided hope for West Ham in the 69th minute but his spot-kick failure ultimately proved decisive as they could not find a late leveller, meaning it is now back-to-back defeats for David Moyes as their recent upturn in form is halted, while Benitez can finally be allowed to feel somewhat more festive.

Arnautovic needed no second invitation to open the scoring in the sixth minute, with Saivet – in as part of five changes by Benitez – carelessly conceding possession.

The Austria forward latched on to the Senegal midfielder’s terrible pass and surged past Ciaran Clark before firing confidently beyond Rob Elliot.

But Saivet atoned for his error in stunning fashion four minutes later, bending a low free-kick into the bottom-left corner past the dive of the out of position Adrian to level matters.

Only the woodwork prevented Newcastle from quickly completing the turnaround, Dwight Gayle clattering the crossbar from DeAndre Yedlin’s low cross after Matt Ritchie found the American on the overlap down the right.

West Ham continued to carry a threat themselves and Michail Antonio spooned a header over when given space in the area before Arthur Masuaku’s drive was parried by Elliot.

The woodwork again frustrated Newcastle as Ritchie curled against the post from the edge of the area after great hold up work from Gayle, and Antonio then missed a sitter at the other end, sending a free header well wide when it seemed easier to score.

Newcastle looked the more likely to score the game’s third goal, though, and Yedlin’s surging run and ball to Ritchie deserved a better conclusion than Gayle shooting over.

The visitors almost paid the price for again allowing Arnautovic space to run at goal after the restart, but the former Stoke City star could only lash wide this time around.

However, Newcastle took the lead they will have felt they deserved eight minutes into the second half as Atsu nutmegged Pablo Zabaleta and pulled the ball back for Diame to emphatically convert into the top-right corner. 

Their advantage came to close to being instantly eroded two minutes later but, after Lee Mason controversially pointed to the spot despite Clark’s foul on Antonio appearing to take place outside the box, Elliot dived low to his left to keep out Ayew’s poor penalty.

The points looked to have been made safe a minute after the hour, Gayle launching an excellent counter with a superb pass for Atsu, who charged forward and played a one-two with Joselu before tapping into the bottom-right corner.

Newcastle’s two-goal lead lasted a matter of eight minutes and it was their former striker Andy Carroll who set it up, the substitute nodding a corner down for Ayew to partially atone for his earlier miss and halve the deficit from close range.

Obiang sent a half-volley over and West Ham huffed and puffed in search of a third, but their approach in pumping long balls into Carroll proved entirely too predictable and Newcastle hung on to complete a double over the Hammers and leapfrog them in the table.

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