Newcastle United’s Joe Willock saved Steve Bruce massive blushes after the Magpies threw away a two-goal halftime lead in a 3-2 win over 10-man West Ham United at St. James’ Park on Saturday.
The Irons were down 1-0 on an Issa Diop own goal when Craig Dawson was sent off and Joelinton scored to make it 2-0 at the break.
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Newcastle boss Steve Bruce took his foot off the gas, allowing West Ham 66 percent second-half possession and an 11-2 shot advantage at the time of the equalizer when Jesse Lingard leveled the score with 10 minutes to play. Diop scored the first goal, while Lingard’s penalty came via a questionable penalty call that wasn’t spotted during the run of paly.
But Arsenal loanee Willock powered a Matt Ritchie cross home in the 82nd minute to give Newcastle all three points.
The lost points sting West Ham, who remain fourth but can slip behind Chelsea and Liverpool by the end of the match week.
The Magpies into 15th place, nine points clear of the bottom three with six matches left on the docket.
Three things we learned from Newcastle – West Ham
1. Magic Saint-Maximin is Newcastle’s security blanket: Hatem Ben Arfa. Lionel Messi. Zinedine Zidane. There are very few dribblers as electric as Allan Saint-Maximin, the French wizard who dominated the first 45 minutes after coming off the bench to prod the Magpies’ win over Burnley last week. Saint-Maximin, unfortunately, limped off in the 64th minute for fellow injury-hampered star Callum Wilson. West Ham then grabbed both of their goals, no surprise, before Willock put Newcastle back in front.
2. Terrible mistakes doom Irons, Lingard injury looms over loss: West Ham’s top four hopes took two potentially big hits: the loss itself and Lingard limping off with a few minutes left. The English playmaker has nine goals and four assists in 10 Premier League games for West Ham, who has dropped six-of-six points from the Magpies and will finish the weekend as low as sixth if Chelsea and Liverpool win. Two poor plays involving stalwart goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, two yellow cards from steady center back Craig Dawson, and a lapse after coming back for a point. Bad, bad stuff.
3. Weird, wonderful world of Newcastle: First, let’s be serious and admit that Newcastle’s successes hinge on the health of their attackers Saint-Maximin and Wilson plus their stout backs. The long ball wizardry of Jonjo Shelvey and some excellent goalkeeping from Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow have helped this season, but there’s always a fly in the ointment and that’s the whim of Steve Bruce. Newcastle’s embattled boss has often either taken his foot off the gas or refused to step on it at all, and the Magpies’ whole has largely been worse than the sum of its part.
This is a team that has taken 12-of-12 points from Everton and West Ham United, but have taken 0-of-9 points from Brighton and Sheffield United.
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle, everybody.
Man of the Match: Allan Saint-Maximin
Newcastle – West Ham recap
Newcastle earned a sixth-minute corner when Sean Longstaff’s low shot was deflected, and Angelo Ogbonna remedied Lukasz Fabianski’s mistimed leap for the service.
Allan Saint-Maximin took a studs-up foul but stayed into the game, then turning on the flair to roast Jarrod Bowen and win another Newcastle corner.
Jacob Murphy soon lashed a low shot that Fabianski blocked and corraled, one-way traffic at St. James’ Park.
Craig Dawson planted a header on Newcastle’s goal and Federico Fernandez stymied a Jesse Lingard dribble to launch a terrific counter attack that finished with Matt Ritchie’s hard cross taking a wicked turn into Fabianski’s chest.
Saint-Maximin then zipped a low shot through traffic. Fabianski stooped to collect it to finish a lively 19 minutes.
The French wizard was at it again with a long dribble that defied Ogbonna. His shot deflected out for another corner.
He’d deliver the goods with help from West Ham, dribbling 40 yards and cutting a shot that Fabianski and Ogbonna pushed off each other for an own goal. Even worse for West Ham, Dawson picked up a second yellow card in the buildup.
With a two-goal lead and a man advantage, Newcastle still threatened but was cognizant of their status on the table and was happy to give the Irons more of the ball than usually seen by a 10-man side.
That, however, provided more chances to the Irons. Bowen got through to Dubravka but was saved by last season’s club player of the season.
Ben Johnson’s terrific 66th-minute cross was nodded on goal by Vladimir Coufal, but Dubravka made the save as the right back should’ve done better.
No surprise, then, that the Irons got a goal when Diop headed big service inside the near post for 2-1. Would Steve Bruce try to attack now?
Nope, and referee Kevin Friend was sent to the screen to view a handball by Ciaran Clark. Tomas Soucek’s leap boosted Clark’s arm into the ball, but Friend was feeling charitable and the Irons went to the spot through in-form Jesse Lingard.
The Manchester United loanee, however, had to wait a while for his chance as Clark was treated for a head injury. It didn’t cool off Lingard’s red-hot form. 2-2.
But Arsenal loanee Willock powered through a Ritchie cross to deliver the Magpies three huge points.